The Taliban said Wednesday it had taken control of a key border crossing with Pakistan, the latest reported territorial gain by the organization amid the U.S.'s troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
According to The Associated Press, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid shared a video on social media purportedly showing Taliban fighters in the southeastern town of Spin Boldak along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
Residents in the Pakistani border town of Chaman reportedly said they had seen the Taliban’s flag flying across the border line as the group's vehicles appeared to drive around the area.
Despite these reports, an Afghanistan governmental official who declined to be identified by name told the AP that the Taliban had not taken control of the Spin Boldak, which serves as a key point of entry for goods traveling from the Pakistani southern port city of Karachi to landlocked Afghanistan.
The Taliban last week claimed to control 85 percent of Afghanistan’s territory, including several Afghan border crossing with countries like Iran, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
The territorial advances have forced out thousands of Afghan forces and civilians, with the U.S. on Tuesday formally launching “Operation Allies Refuge” to evacuate Afghans that helped U.S. troops during its 20-year war in Afghanistan, the longest armed conflict in U.S. history.
The Hill has reached out to the Pentagon for comment on the reported Taliban taking of the Spin Boldak border crossing.
Russia on Wednesday called on the Afghan government to negotiate with the Taliban a day after an Afghan official said a senior government delegation would be meeting the Taliban in Qatar to initiate peace talks.
Fears of a possible Taliban takeover of Afghanistan have grown amid the group’s advances, though President BidenJoe BidenOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by American Clean Power — Methane fee faces negotiations White House rejects latest Trump claim of executive privilege The No Surprises Act: a bill long overdue MORE pushed back on these concerns last week, arguing that the Afghan army is as “well equipped as any army in the world” to fend off the Taliban.”
“The likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely,” he said at the time.
U.S. Central Command this week said the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan is roughly 95 percent complete, with Biden saying all American troops will be out of the country by Aug. 31, ahead of his initial goal of the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.