3 to 12 month life for current Afghan administration, when US leaves

US could slow Afghan withdrawal amid Taliban gains

Taliban presence at Tajik border alarms Dushanbe

The US military has said it could slow down its withdrawal from Afghanistan in light of recent battlefield victories by the Taliban.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the deadline for a full withdrawal by 11 September was still in place, but the pace may change.

Pentagon officials said last week that the withdrawal is about half-way done.

Taliban Capture Afghanistan’s Main Tajikistan Border Crossing

 STAFF WRITER WITH AFP   JUNE 22, 2021

The Taliban captured Afghanistan’s main border crossing with Tajikistan, an Afghan provincial official and army officer said Tuesday, with some security forces abandoning their posts and fleeing across the frontier.

The seizure of Shir Khan Bandar, in the far north of Afghanistan about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Kunduz city, is the most significant gain for the Taliban since they stepped up operations on May 1 when the US began the final stages of its troop withdrawal.

“Unfortunately this morning and after an hour of fighting the Taliban captured Shir Khan port and the town and all the border check posts with Tajikistan,” said Kunduz provincial council member Khaliddin Hakmi.

Separately, an army officer told AFP: “We were forced to leave all check posts… and some of our soldiers crossed the border into Tajikistan.”

“By the morning, they (Taliban fighters) were everywhere, hundreds of them,” he said on condition of anonymity.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed the insurgents had seized the border crossing across the Pyanj River.

“Our Mujahideen are in full control of Shir Khan Bandar and all the border crossings with Tajikistan in Kunduz,” he told AFP.

Afghanistan has seen increasing violence as the US and Nato prepare to pull out their remaining troops.

Over the last month, the Taliban have intensified their attacks and gained control of more than 30 districts. The hardline Islamist group has also seized large quantities of military equipment, according to local media, and killed, wounded or captured dozens of troops.

Taliban capture Afghanistan's main Tajikistan border crossing | Zabihullah  Mujahid | English News - YouTube

Afghan government spokespeople have denied that the districts have fallen to the Taliban, saying they were evacuated in a “tactical withdrawal”. It is unclear how many Taliban have been killed or wounded.

The Taliban say they have control of the whole northern province of Kunduz, with only the provincial capital retained by the government.

Police said the group had encircled the strategically important city, also named Kunduz, the Associated Press reported. A long-standing target, it briefly fell to the insurgents in 2015 before being retaken by Nato-backed government forces.

Afghan security forces continue to resist the Taliban push, and recaptured two districts in the north-eastern province of Takhar on Sunday.

“The situation in Afghanistan changes as the Taliban continue to conduct these attacks and to raid district centres as well as the violence, which is still too high,” the Pentagon spokesman said.

The US military has said it could slow down its withdrawal from Afghanistan in light of recent battlefield victories by the Taliban.

Afghan Taliban attack: Afghan Taliban seize central border crossing with  Tajikistan,

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the deadline for a full withdrawal by 11 September was still in place, but the pace may change.

Pentagon officials said last week that the withdrawal is about half-way done.

Afghanistan has seen increasing violence as the US and Nato prepare to pull out their remaining troops.

Over the last month, the Taliban have intensified their attacks and gained control of more than 30 districts. The hardline Islamist group has also seized large quantities of military equipment, according to local media, and killed, wounded or captured dozens of troops.

Afghan government spokespeople have denied that the districts have fallen to the Taliban, saying they were evacuated in a “tactical withdrawal”. It is unclear how many Taliban have been killed or wounded.

Taliban capture Afghanistan's main border crossing with Tajikistan - The  Week

The Taliban say they have control of the whole northern province of Kunduz, with only the provincial capital retained by the government.

Police said the group had encircled the strategically important city, also named Kunduz, the Associated Press reported. A long-standing target, it briefly fell to the insurgents in 2015 before being retaken by Nato-backed government forces.

Afghan security forces continue to resist the Taliban push, and recaptured two districts in the north-eastern province of Takhar on Sunday.

© Getty Images Afghan security forces pictured in the strategic city of Kunduz

“The situation in Afghanistan changes as the Taliban continue to conduct these attacks and to raid district centres as well as the violence, which is still too high,” the Pentagon spokesman said.

“If there needs to be changes made to the pace, or to the scope and scale of the retrograde, on any given day or in any given week, we want to maintain the flexibility to do that.

134 Afghan soldiers fleeing Taliban attack seek refuge in Tajikistan

“We’re constantly taking a look at this, every single day: what’s the situation on the ground, what capabilities do we have, what additional resources do we need to move out of Afghanistan and at what pace.

“All of these decisions are literally being made in real time.”

US-led forces ousted the Taliban from power in Afghanistan in October 2001. The Taliban had been harbouring Osama Bin Laden and other al-Qaeda figures linked to the 9/11 attacks in the US.

US President Joe Biden says the American pull-out is now justified as US forces have made sure Afghanistan cannot again become a base for foreign jihadists to plot against the West.

Taliban captures Afghanistan's main Tajikistan border crossing - AKIpress  News Agency

A senior United Nations official warned last year that al-Qaeda was still “heavily embedded” within Taliban militants in Afghanistan, however.

Writing in the Washington Post on Tuesday, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said his country was willing to be a “partner for peace in Afghanistan” with the US, but would not host US bases.

Taliban capture Afghanistan's main Tajikistan border crossing - France 24

He said Pakistan had previously made mistakes by choosing between warring parties in neighbouring Afghanistan, and pledged to work with anyone who enjoyed the confidence of the Afghan people.

Afghan leaders have long accused Pakistan of supporting the Taliban. The country’s co-operation is seen as critical to US withdrawal goals.

Mr Khan said recently that he would “absolutely not” allow the CIA into Pakistan to conduct cross-border counter-terrorism missions against al-Qaeda, the Islamic State group or the Taliban.

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