Afghan security forces flee without a fight as more districts fall to the Taliban
More than 1,000 Afghan troops flee into Tajikistan as Taliban advance, US forces leave
- Taliban take districts in northern Afghanistan from fleeing troops
- Afghan government forces planning counteroffensive, report says
More than 1,000 Afghan troops fled into neighbouring Tajikistan in the early hours of Monday after clashes with the Taliban, the Central Asian country’s national security committee said.
Taliban militants have launched several major offensives in northern Afghanistan in recent weeks as US and international troops withdraw from the country, including seizing its main crossing into Tajikistan last month.
On Monday, Tajikistan’s national security committee said that 1,037 Afghan government troops had fled into the ex-Soviet country “in order to save their lives” after clashes with the Taliban during the night.
“Taking into account the principle of good neighbourliness and adhering to the position of non-interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan, the military personnel of the Afghan government forces were allowed to enter Tajik territory,” the committee said in a statement distributed by Tajikistan’s state information agency Khovar.
It said the Taliban had taken “full control” of six districts of the Badakhshan province bordering Tajikistan in Afghanistan’s northeast.
Several hundred Afghan troops had already crossed into Tajikistan after the Taliban unleashed its onslaught in early May.
The militants have seized dozens of Afghanistan’s districts, raising fears that the Afghan military will collapse once US and international troops complete their withdrawal from the country in September.
The gains in Badakhshan province in recent days have mostly come to the insurgent movement without a fight, said Mohib-ul Rahman, a provincial council member. He blamed Taliban successes on the poor morale of troops who are mostly outnumbered and without resupplies.
“Unfortunately, the majority of the districts were left to Taliban without any fight,” said Rahman. In the last three days, 10 districts fell to Taliban, eight without a fight, he said.
US troops leave Bagram Airfield as withdrawal from Afghanistan nears completion
Even as a security meeting was being held early Sunday to plot the strengthening of the perimeter around the capital, some senior provincial officials were leaving Faizabad for the capital Kabul, he said.
In late June the Afghan government resurrected militias with a reputation of brutal violence to support the beleaguered Afghan forces but Rahman said many of the militias in the Badakhshan districts put up only a half-hearted fight.
The areas under Taliban control in the north are increasingly strategic, running along Afghanistan’s border with central Asian states. Last month the religious movement took control of Imam Sahib, a town in Kunduz province opposite Uzbekistan and gained control of a key trade route.
An adviser to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said government forces were planning a counteroffensive in the country’s northern provinces, Russia’s RIA news agency reported.
National security adviser Hamdullah Mohib told RIA that government forces had not expected the Taliban offensive but would “absolutely, definitely” counter-attack.
Agence France-Presse, Associated Press, Reuters