Taliban officials said on Friday the insurgent group had taken control of 85 percent of territory in Afghanistan, and international concern mounted over problems getting medicines and supplies into the country.
Afghan officialdom described the assertion that the Taliban controlled most of the country as a part of a propaganda campaign launched as foreign military personnel, including those from us, withdraw after almost 20 years of fighting.
However, local Afghan officials said Taliban fighters, emboldened by the withdrawal, had captured a crucial district in Herat province, home to tens of thousands of minority Shia Hazaras.
Insurgent group’s officials tell press conference in Moscow they’re going to not allow their territory to be used against neighbors
Torghundi, a northern town on the border with Turkmenistan, had also been captured by the Taliban overnight, Afghan and Taliban officials said.
Hundreds of Afghan security personnel and refugees continued to escape across the border into neighboring Iran and Tajikistan, causing concern in Moscow and other foreign capitals that radical groups could infiltrate Central Asia.
Three visiting Taliban officials sought to deal with those concerns during a visit to Moscow. “We will take all measures in order that (militant) Islamic State (group) won’t operate Afghan territory… and our territory will never be used against our neighbours,” one among the Taliban officials, Shahabuddin Delawar, told a press conference.
He said, “you and therefore the entire world community has probably recently learned that 85pc of the territory of Afghanistan has come under the control” of the Taliban.
The same delegation said each day earlier that the group wouldn’t attack the Tajik-Afghan border, the fate of which is focused in Russia and Central Asia.
Asked about what proportion of territory the Taliban held, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby declined direct comment. “Claiming territory or claiming ground doesn’t mean you’ll sustain that or keep it over time,” he said in an interview with CNN.
“And so I feel it’s really time for the Afghan forces to urge into the sector — and that they are within the field — and to defend their country, their people.”
“They’ve got the capacity, they’ve got the potential. Now it’s time to possess which will,” he said.
As fighting continued, a World Health Organisation (WHO) official said doctors were struggling to urge medicines and supplies into Afghanistan, which some staff had fled after facilities came under fire.
The WHO’s regional emergencies director, Rick Brennan, said a minimum of 18.4 million people required humanitarian assistance, including 3.1 million children in danger of acute malnutrition.
“We are concerned about our lack of access to be ready to provide essential medicines and supplies and that we are concerned about attacks on health care,” Brennan, speaking via video link from Cairo, told a UN briefing in Geneva.
Some aid would arrive by next week, including 3.5m Covid-19 vaccine doses and oxygen concentrators, he said. They included doses of Johnson & Johnson’s shot donated by us and AstraZeneca doses through the Covax facility.
A US donation of quite 1.4m doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine arrived on Friday, the UN children’s agency said.
In Afghanistan, a prominent anti-Taliban commander said he would support efforts by Afghan forces to claw back control of parts of western Afghanistan, including a border crossing with Iran.
Mohammad Ismail Khan, widely referred to as the Lion of Herat, urged civilians to hitch the fight. He said many armed civilians from Ghor, Badghis, Nimroz, Farah, Helmand, and Kandahar provinces had come to his house and were able to fill the safety void created by foreign force withdrawal.
President Joe Biden said on Thursday the Afghan people must decide their own future which he wouldn’t consign another generation of USA citizens to the two-decade-old war. Biden has set a target date of Aug 31 for the ultimate withdrawal of folks forces, minus about 650 troops to supply security for the US embassy in Kabul.
Biden said Washington had way back achieved its original rationale for invading the country in 2001: to uproot Al Qaeda militants and stop another attack on us just like the one launched on Sept 11, 2001.