June 22, 2021 – 21:48
Taliban fighters have gained control of dozens of districts in Afghanistan as they step up attacks while withdrawing foreign troops, the United Nations has warned.
The insurgents have taken control of more than 50 of the 370 districts since May, the UN special envoy to Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, told the UN Security Council, warning of “terrible scenarios”.
She said the escalation of the conflict “means increased insecurity for many other states, near and far”.
The United States and NATO still intend to leave Afghanistan, as planned, on September 11.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, however, said the situation remained “dynamic” and although the Taliban’s actions had not affected troop withdrawals, the plan was likely to change.
“The recent advances of the hardline Islamist group have been the result of an ‘intensified military campaign,'” Lyons told the UN Security Council in New York.
These districts are surrounded as far as the capitals, which indicates that the Taliban are positioning themselves to gain control of the capitals when foreign troops leave completely.
The Taliban also invaded Afghanistan’s main border with Tajikistan on Tuesday, officials said.
This border point is located in the northern province of Kunduz, where fighting has escalated in recent days.
US-led forces ousted the Taliban from power in October 2001.
The Taliban have been harboring Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda operatives since the September 11 attacks in the United States.
US President Joe Biden has said that the US withdrawal is now reasonable, as US forces have made sure that Afghanistan will no longer become a base for foreign jihadists to carry out plots against the West.