The Taliban are urgent on with their surge in Afghanistan, saying they seized a strategic border crossing with Pakistan on Wednesday — the most recent in a collection of key border post to come back beneath their management in latest weeks.
The growth was the most recent in Taliban wins on the bottom as American and NATO troops full their pullout from the war-battered nation. On Tuesday, an Afghan official mentioned a senior authorities delegation, together with the top of the nation’s reconciliation council, would meet the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, to jump-start the long-stalled peace talks between the 2 sides.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted a video purporting to point out Taliban fighters Wednesday within the southeastern city of Spin Boldak alongside the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. On the Pakistani facet, residents of the border city of Chaman reported seeing the Taliban’s signature white flag flying simply throughout the boundary line and Taliban fighters in automobiles driving within the space.
However, an Afghan authorities official from southern Kandahar province, the place Spin Boldak is situated, denied that the Taliban had taken management. The official declined to be recognized by title, with out explaining why.
The Taliban have in latest weeks taken a string of main Afghan border crossings, together with with Iran, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The border crossing with Iran at Islam Qala in Afghanistan’s western Herat province is especially profitable and an vital commerce route.
SpinBoldak is a key crossing for all items from Pakistan’s southern port metropolis of Karachi to Afghanistan, a landlocked nation depending on the Arabian Sea port.
Last week, the Taliban mentioned they now management 85% of Afghanistan’s territory — a declare that’s unimaginable to confirm however that was significantly larger than earlier Taliban statements that greater than a 3rd of the nation’s 421 districts and district facilities have been of their management.
Many Afghan districts have fallen to the Taliban with out a battle as Afghan forces deserted their posts. Reports indicated that Spin Boldak additionally fell with out a battle.
In northern Afghanistan, a conventional stronghold of US-allied warlords, greater than 1,000 Afghan army males fled throughout the border into northern Tajikistan final week forward of the advancing Taliban. Iran additionally reported a couple of hundred Afghan troops crossing into Iran.
The taking of key border crossings will seemingly imply vital income for the Taliban whereas additionally strengthening their hand in any future negotiations with the Kabul authorities.
The Taliban surge has additionally resulted in tens of hundreds of Afghans fleeing their properties — some because of the combating, however many out of concern of what life may be like beneath Taliban rule.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the US particular consultant for Afghanistan reconciliation, acknowledged the continued chaos in remarks Wednesday. However, he pointed to the a long time of unrest within the nation because the 1979 Soviet invasion.
“The fact is that Afghanistan has been at war for 43 years — it isn’t that Afghanistan has been peaceful and now we are withdrawing and therefore it’s becoming a battleground,” Khalilzad advised an internet seminar organized by the Beirut Institute. “The Taliban were making progress each year over the last several years while we were still there.”
The Taliban management has tried to current a softer picture — even saying that when they return to energy in Afghanistan, ladies can attend faculty and ladies will probably be allowed to work. However, in areas the place they’ve gained management, studies from villagers say girls are sometimes being ordered inside, allowed out solely when accompanied by a male family member.
In the video circulated by Mujahid, an unidentified Taliban fighter says that whereas they may have killed the Afghan troopers on the border crossing, they have been ordered by their management to not harm them however to ship them dwelling.
The Taliban have been anticipated to deliver their senior leaders to the talks in Doha, the place the rebel motion has lengthy maintained a political workplace.
The negotiations are aimed toward ending the violence that has steadily elevated because the US signed a deal with the rebel motion in February final 12 months spelling out the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan.
There are rising considerations for what lies forward and hundreds of Afghans try to go away the nation amid rising nervousness in regards to the future. Outgoing US commander Gen. Scott Miller, who formally stepped down at a ceremony in Kabul on Monday, has warned that rising violence significantly hurts Afghanistan’s possibilities of discovering a peaceable finish to a long time of conflict.
Miller additionally warned of a attainable civil conflict as US-allied warlords have been resurrecting their militias in an try to cease the Taliban surge. The militias have a violent historical past.