Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Monday blamed the “sudden” US decision to withdraw troops from the rapid collapse of security in the country as Taliban forces move closer to three major cities.
Ghani told the Afghan parliament that “the past three months” have been “an unexpected situation”.
He added, however, that the government had a US-backed security plan to get the situation under control within six months as peace talks between the government and Taliban negotiators continue to stagnate, Reuters reported.
In April, President Biden extended the deadline set by former President Donald Trump for a military withdrawal from May to September 11. The withdrawal began in May and by early July the situation deteriorated rapidly: The Taliban following the withdrawal.
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Two weeks later, the Pentagon said the pullout was about 95 percent complete while admitting that the Taliban appeared to have “strategic momentum.”
The Taliban have moved closer to key cities as the government continues to withdraw its forces to strengthen the capital’s defenses. Forces have clashed in Herat, Lashkar Gah and Kandahar as the Taliban attempt to strengthen their already impressive hold over the country.
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The fundamentalist Islamist militia have so far reportedly captured half of Afghanistan’s territory, including major border posts with Iran and Pakistan, the BBC reported.
Taliban insurgents were reportedly a few hundred yards from the governor’s office on Saturday, but the military pushed them back after dark. The United States and Afghanistan then carried out airstrikes on suspected Taliban positions, with Kabul claiming to have killed dozens of militants.
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Thousands of civilians were killed or injured in the crossfire, claiming the highest number of casualties for the May-June period since the UN began monitoring the data in 2009, The New York Times reported.
Areas that were previously considered safe began to feel the edge of the conflict: shops in Herat closed early and the city’s airport remained closed to civilian movement for a third day.
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The people of Lashkar Gah fled their homes.
“We are just waiting for the Taliban to arrive – there is no longer any expectation that the government will be able to protect the city,” said Mohammadullah Barak, a resident.
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