The Taliban’s rapid advance into northern Afghanistan continued on Sunday, with the occupation of more than a dozen districts as the UK moves into the last two decades of its two-decade deployment in the country.
More of 300 members of the forces Afghan security officials fled across the border with Tajikistan to escape the Taliban, who now control Badakhshan and Takhar provinces, as well as their respective regional capitals, the Guardian.
Although an official date for the full withdrawal has not been released, some sources had revealed that the US (US) and UK missions would end on July 4th. On Friday, the Americans handed over the Bagram air base, meaning they can no longer carry out significant operations in the country.
Soon after, at a press conference, US President Joe Biden ignored questions about the end of the American mission. Since then, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki has indicated that the last military will likely leave Afghanistan at the end of August.
On Sunday, the UK Ministry of Defense said some troops remained in Afghanistan. The British plan should become clearer after the prime minister’s meeting, Boris Johnson, with the National Security Council, which will determine the diplomatic future and any residual military presence in that country.
Like other NATO countries that have closed their missions in recent weeks, the UK appears to be planning a very low-key military departure.
The Taliban already control about a third of Afghanistan’s nearly 400 districts. Although they have not yet taken any provincial capitals, they are surrounding several, from the city of Ghazni in the east to Maimana in Faryab in the north. In many areas, security forces surrendered without a fight, through agreements mediated by local elders.
In Badakhshan, the group’s rapid advance has led to politicians and government officials crowding the evacuation posts for Kabul. On Sunday, special forces arrived by helicopter to protect the city and try to recover some districts.
Taísa Pagno //