Taliban overtake districts in northern Afghanistan

Several of Afghanistan’s northern districts were taken by the Taliban overnight Saturday as U.S. forces continued withdraw from the region.

Tajikistan’s State Committee for National Security said Sunday that more than 300 Afghan military personnel had crossed into Tajikistan while fleeing Taliban fighters advancing in Afghanistan's northeast Badakhshan province, according to The Associated Press

Mohib-ul Rahman, a Badakhshan council member, told the AP that the Taliban’s recent gains in the area have largely resulted from low morale among outnumbered Afghan troops. 

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“Unfortunately, the majority of the districts were left to the Taliban without any fight,” he added, saying that eight out of 10 districts in the last three days fell to Taliban control without much resistance.  

According to the AP, the Taliban have now taken control of about a third of the 421 total districts and district centers in the country. 

Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry said Sunday that the Taliban gains were temporary, though the AP noted that no plans were released on how local forces were going to make an attempt to take back the districts. 

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed to the AP that no fighting occurred in the recent territorial gains. 

The advances are just the latest made by Taliban fighters, who have been taking control of districts since the Biden administration began removing troops in April as part of the president’s goal to remove all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that sparked America’s longest war. 

While many praised President BidenJoe BidenHow 'Buy American', other pro-US policies can help advocates pass ambitious climate policies Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan Photos of the Week: Manchin protestor, Paris Hilton and a mirror room MORE’s decision to take U.S. soldiers out of the country, he also received bipartisan criticism from lawmakers who expressed fears that the Taliban would quickly seize on the diminished American presence in the region.  

The Pentagon declined to comment when contacted by The Hill on this weekend’s territorial gains. 

U.S. officials on Friday announced that American troops had vacated the Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, formerly the U.S. and NATO’s biggest military facility. 

However, Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller, the U.S.’s top commander in Afghanistan, told the AP at the time that it “still retains all the capabilities and authorities to protect the forces.”