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 sequence of key border put up to return underneath their management in latest weeks.
The event 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 indicate Taliban fighters Wednesday within the southeastern city of Spin Boldak alongside the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. On the Pakistani aspect, 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.
Nevertheless, an Afghan authorities official from southern Kandahar province, the place Spin Boldak is positioned, 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 essential 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.
Final week, the Taliban mentioned they now management 85% of Afghanistan’s territory — a declare that’s inconceivable to confirm however that was significantly greater 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 and not using a struggle as Afghan forces deserted their posts. Studies indicated that Spin Boldak additionally fell and not using a struggle.
In northern Afghanistan, a conventional stronghold of US-allied warlords, greater than 1,000 Afghan navy males fled throughout the border into northern Tajikistan final week forward of the advancing Taliban. Iran additionally reported a number of hundred Afghan troops crossing into Iran.
The taking of key border crossings will doubtless 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 houses — some because of the preventing, however many out of worry of what life may be like underneath Taliban rule.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the US particular consultant for Afghanistan reconciliation, acknowledged the continued chaos in remarks Wednesday. Nevertheless, he pointed to the many years of unrest within the nation for the reason that 1979 Soviet invasion.
“The actual fact is that Afghanistan has been at conflict for 43 years — it isn’t that Afghanistan has been peaceable and now we’re withdrawing and subsequently it’s turning into a battleground,” Khalilzad advised a web based seminar organized by the Beirut Institute. “The Taliban have been making progress every year during the last a number of years whereas we have been nonetheless there.”
The Taliban management has tried to current a softer picture — even saying that when they return to energy in Afghanistan, ladies can attend college and ladies will likely be allowed to work. Nevertheless, in areas the place they’ve gained management, experiences from villagers say girls are sometimes being ordered inside, allowed out solely when accompanied by a male family member.
Within the video circulated by Mujahid, an unidentified Taliban fighter says that whereas they might have killed the Afghan troopers on the border crossing, they have been ordered by their management to not harm them however to ship them residence.
The Taliban have been anticipated to carry 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 for the reason that US signed a take care of the rebel motion in February final yr spelling out the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan.
There are rising issues for what lies forward and hundreds of Afghans are attempting to go away the nation amid rising anxiousness 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 growing violence critically hurts Afghanistan’s probabilities of discovering a peaceable finish to many years 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.