The Taliban seized control of an important point on the Afghan-Pakistani border on Wednesday (14), one of their greatest achievements to date in the group’s rapid advance across the country as the United States withdraws their troops.
A video released by the insurgents showed their white flag, with a black verse from the Koran, in place of the Afghan banner above the Friendship Gate on the border between the town of Wesh, Afghanistan, and Shaman. , in Pakistan.
“After two decades of brutality by Americans and their puppets, this gate and the Spin Boldak neighborhood have been captured by the Taliban,” a fighter from the radical Islamic faction trying to retake said on camera. power in the country. “The strong resistance of the ‘mujahidin’ [guerreiros santos] and its inhabitants forced the enemy to leave this area. As you can see, it is the flag of the Islamic Emirate, the flag for which thousands of “mujahideen” shed their blood. “
Afghan officials, however, deny having lost control of the border post. Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said the country’s security forces repelled a Taliban attack. On the other hand, several residents reported a strong presence of insurgents in Wesh, especially in official buildings and on the road linking the district of Spin Boldak to Kandahar, capital of the province of the same name and the main city in the south of the Afghanistan.
“When I went to my store this morning, I saw Taliban everywhere,” Raz Mohammad, a salesman working near the border, told the news agency. “They are at the market, at the police headquarters and at customs. You can hear the fighting.
Pakistani officials in Chaman confirmed the seizure of the border post and said the Taliban had suspended all passage through the gate. Feda Mohammad, a bus driver, told AFP he was stopped by fighters on the main road from Kandahar to Pakistan. “They stopped me and forced me to turn around. They are patrolling the Kandahar-Spin Boldak road, ”he added.
This border post is the second busiest entry point to the country and the main trade route between the southwest region and the ports of Pakistan. According to the Afghan government, around 900 trucks use this route per day.
The Taliban have also taken control of other important border posts in the provinces of Herat, Farah and Kunduz in the north and west of the country. Ordering these places helps increase income, said Shafiqullah Attai, chairman of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment.
Since May, the group has waged a campaign to expand its influence following news that US troops, after two decades, would leave the country. Islamic insurgents ruled the country from 1996 until they were ousted from power in 2001, when the United States invaded the country after the September 11 attacks. Since then, they have been fighting to overthrow the government in Kabul.
Under Donald Trump’s administration, the United States pledged to withdraw its troops in a peace agreement signed with the group. Current US President Joe Biden has set August 31 as the deadline for that outing, and military personnel left their main base in Afghanistan two weeks ago.
With the departure, the Taliban found themselves encouraged to take cities and capture territories, often violently forcing citizens to surrender.
One such case was reported by US broadcaster CNN, which cited a recording in which insurgents killed more than ten Afghan special forces in June in Dawlat Abad town in Faryab province, near from the border with Turkmenistan. US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Wednesday there was no reason to doubt the authenticity of the footage and called the action “excruciating.”
Amid the breakthrough, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani traveled to northern Balkh province on Tuesday (13) to assess the security of the region after the Taliban expelled government forces from several districts. . He met with civilians and assured them that “the Taliban’s backbone will be broken” and that government forces will soon recapture areas lost to insurgents, according to Tolo News reports.
On another front, Vice President Amrullah Saleh reported that the Taliban forced members of an ethnic minority to convert to Islam or to leave their homes in the northern province of Badakhshan. “They come from the Kyrgyz minority, which has lived there for centuries. they are now [do outro lado da fronteira com] Tajikistan, awaiting his fate, “he wrote on his Twitter.
According to a Tajik news agency, which quotes border officials, 347 Afghans have fled to the neighboring country. The group would be made up of 113 girls, 64 boys, 91 men and 77 women, some with their herds of animals. The agency also says two babies died in the crossing.
Last Friday (9), the Russian government claimed that the Taliban controlled nearly two-thirds of the Afghan border with Tajikistan. Allies of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, Russia is committed to protecting the Central Asian country, where it maintains two bases with 7,500 men. In turn, Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon ordered the mobilization of 20,000 reservists at the border.
The Taliban advance is still amid allegations of abuse, according to the UN mission in Afghanistan. “Reports of murders, ill-treatment, persecution and discrimination are widespread and disturbing, generating fear and insecurity,” the mission warned in a statement.
Educated Afghans – especially women and girls banned from school and many jobs under the Taliban government – as well as members of ethnic and sectarian minorities persecuted for a rigid interpretation of Sunni Islam have also expressed concern over the rapid progression of the group. Taliban spokespersons have dismissed allegations of abuse and said women would not be harmed if the group returned to power.
Fear is also spreading among former officials who collaborated with the US government during the invasion and who, with the departure of the troops, are at the mercy of the group. The crisis has left the Biden administration under heavy pressure from party lawmakers and US advocacy groups to begin evacuating these people.
U.S. officials told Reuters news agency on condition of anonymity that the United States would send charter flights later this month to evacuate some 2,500 Afghans who were working as interpreters under a action called Operation Allied Refuge.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday the decision to evacuate was due to the recognition and appreciation of the role of these collaborators in recent years. According to her, the precise figures on the number of people covered on the first flights were confidential for security and operational reasons.
At the end of June, there were 18,000 open files of former Afghan officials, including translators, who hope the US government will keep its promise and reward them for risking their lives for the invader of their country.