The Taliban claimed Friday to control 85 percent of Afghanistan after seizing keywith Iran and Turkmenistan, part of a sweeping offensive launched as US troops pull out of the war-torn nation. Hours after issued a staunch defense of the US withdrawal, the Taliban said its fighters had seized
the two crossings in western Afghanistan – completing an arc of territory from the Iranian border to the frontier with China. In Moscow, a delegation of Taliban officials said they controlled about 250 of Afghanistan’s nearly 400 districts – a claim that the government could not independently verify and disputed. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid separately told AFP their fighters had captured the border town of Islam Qala on the Iranian frontier and the Torghundi crossing with Turkmenistan. Afghanistan’s interior ministry spokesman Tareq Arian
said efforts were underway to dislodge the insurgents from their revenue sources.. The Afghan government has repeatedly dismissed the Taliban’s gains as having value. Still, the seizure of multiple border crossings and mineral-rich areas will likely fill the group’s coffers with several new
Hours earlier, Mr. Biden said the US military mission wouldafter it began – having “achieved” its goals.
But he admitted it was “doubtful” Kabul would be able to control the entire country.
“I will not send another generation of Americans to war in Afghanistan. Theis not an option,” Mr. Biden said of staying in the country.
With the Taliban having recently routed much of northern Afghanistan, the government holds little more than a constellation of provincial capitals that must largely be reinforced and resupplied by air. Thewas under severe strain even before the Taliban’s lightning offensive overwhelmed the government’s northern and
western positions, putting further pressure on the country’s limited aircraft and pilots. Mr. Biden said the Afghan people alone should determine their future, but he acknowledged the uncertainty about what that would look like. Asked if a Taliban takeover was inevitable, the“No, it is not.” But, he admitted, “the likelihood there is going to be one unified government in Afghanistan controlling the whole country is highly unlikely”.
US exit ‘positive step’, Taliban says
The Taliban, for their part, welcomed Mr. Biden’s statement.
“Any day or hour that US and foreignearlier is a positive step,” spokesman Suhail Shaheen told AFP.
Afghan commandos clashed with the insurgents thisin a provincial capital, with thousands fleeing Qala-i-Naw in northwest Badghis province.
On Friday, the Afghan defense ministry said government forces had “full control” of the city.
Hours later, a group of Taliban fighterson the edge of Kandahar City, the capital of their former bastion of Kandahar province. President Ashraf Ghani said the the situation but admitted difficulties lay ahead. What we are witnessing is one of the most complicated stages of the transition,” he said in a speech in Kabul on Thursday.
Ismail Khan, a veteran warlord whose militia helped US forces topple the Taliban in 2001, vowed to front lines and, with the help of God, change the situation,” Mr. Khan told reporters in the western city of Herat. The Taliban have been emboldened by the and – with peace talks in Doha deadlocked – appear to be pressing for a complete military victory.forces fighting against the insurgents. We will soon go to the