Middle East/North Africa

Taliban control 65 percent of Afghanistan: EU official

The Taliban now controls about 65 percent of Afghanistan as of Tuesday, according to a European Union official.

Reuters reports that an EU official warned on Tuesday that the military group now controls 65 percent of Afghanistan and is threatening to take 11 province capitals. The group is seeking to deprive Kabul of its support from forces in the north, according to the official.

The Afghan government has withdrawn its forces from hard to defend areas, deciding to focus its efforts on major population centers, Reuters notes. Afghanistan has also called on the neighboring country of Pakistan to block Taliban reinforcements and supplies from coming in across its border.

The capital city of the northern Baghlan province, Pul-e-Khumri, was taken by the Taliban on Tuesday evening. This marks the seventh province capital to fall to the Taliban in a week, Reuters notes.

The EU official added that around 400,000 Afghans have been displaced in the past few months with an uptick in people fleeing to Iran observed in the past 10 days.

U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad on Tuesday issued a warning to the Taliban that any government established through force would not be recognized by the international community. According to the State Department, Khalilzad traveled to Doha, Qatar, where he urged the Taliban to stop its military campaign and to arrange a political settlement with the Afghan government.

The White House on Tuesday largely remained firm in its position that the Afghan government should be able to handle the Taliban’s offensive campaign.

“I’ll also note that we have provided a great deal and a range of assistance to the Afghan national security defense forces and also proposed a significant amount of funding in the FY 2022 budget request for $3.3 billion for the Afghan security forces,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

“Ultimately, our view is that the Afghan national security defense forces have the equipment, numbers and training to fight back, which will strengthen their position at the negotiating table,” she added. “We believe there’s a political process that’s the only process that will successfully bring peace and stability to Afghanistan.”

Tags Afghanistan Afghanistan–United States relations Jen Psaki Taliban Taliban offensive War in Afghanistan

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