Officials from the Taliban claimed on Friday that the Sunni Muslim militant group had gained control of 85 percent of Afghanistan’s land, as international worry grew about the country’s lack of medication and supplies.
The claim that the Taliban controlled the majority of the nation was rejected by Afghan government authorities as part of a propaganda effort undertaken when foreign forces, notably the US, withdrew after almost two decades of combat in the region.
Following the US’s recent quiet retreat, the insurgent group has started re-approaching more key towns, causing worry among the population.
The insurgents had taken control of a key district in Herat province, which is home to tens of thousands of Shi’ite Hazaras.
Torghundi, a northern town on the Turkmenistan border, was also taken over by the Taliban overnight, according to Afghan and Taliban sources.
Hundreds of Afghan security personnel and refugees have continued to escape across the border into Iran and Tajikistan, raising fears in Moscow and other foreign capitals that radical Islamists may penetrate Central Asia.
During a visit to Moscow, three Taliban leaders attempted to address such concerns.
“We will take all measures so that Islamic State will not operate on Afghan territory… and our territory will never be used against our neighbours,” one of the Taliban officials, Shahabuddin Delawar, told a news conference.
On Thursday, US President Joe Biden stated that the Afghan people must determine their own fate and that he would not commit another generation of Americans to the two-decade-long conflict.
The full evacuation of US forces, except around 650 personnel to maintain protection for the US embassy in Kabul, is planned for August 31, according to Biden.