Half of all Afghan district centres under Taliban control, says top US general

Published July 22, 2021
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, holds a press conference on July 21, 2021 at The Pentagon in Washington. — AFP
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, holds a press conference on July 21, 2021 at The Pentagon in Washington. — AFP

Taliban insurgents control about half of Afghanistan's district centres, the top US general said on Wednesday, indicating a rapidly deteriorating security situation.

Insecurity has been growing in Afghanistan in recent weeks, largely spurred by fighting in its provinces as US led foreign troops complete their withdrawal and the Taliban launch major offensives, taking districts and border crossings.

"Strategic momentum appears to be sort of with the Taliban," General Mark Milley, the chairperson of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters.

Milley said more than 200 of the 419 district centres were under Taliban control. Last month, he had said the Taliban controlled 81 district centres in Afghanistan.

While the insurgent group had not taken over any provincial capitals, they were putting pressure on the outskirts of half of them, he said.

The government has accused the Taliban of destroying hundreds of government buildings in 29 of the country's 34 provinces. The Taliban deny accusations of extensive destruction by their fighters.

Fifteen diplomatic missions and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) representative in Afghanistan urged the Taliban on Monday to halt its offensives just hours after the rival Afghan sides failed to agree on a ceasefire at a peace meeting in Doha.

Biden has set a formal end to the US military mission in Afghanistan for August 31 as he looks to disengage from a conflict that began after Al Qaeda's attacks on the US on September 11, 2001.

Almost all US troops, except those protecting the embassy in Kabul and airport, have left the country.

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