Kabul: The Taliban claim to control 85% of Afghanistan’s territory as the authorities are preparing to retake the key crossing points occupied by the insurgents on Saturday, launching a full-scale offensive when the US forces withdrew from the war-torn country.
A few hours after President Joe Biden issued a firm defense of the U.S. withdrawal on Thursday, the Taliban stated that its fighters had occupied two border crossings in western Afghanistan-completing the territorial arc from the Iranian border to the Chinese border.
In Moscow, a delegation of Taliban officials stated that they control about 250 of the nearly 400 areas in Afghanistan—a statement that cannot be independently verified, and the government disputes this.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid separately told AFP that their fighters had occupied the border town of Islam Kala on the Iranian border and the Torhondi border crossing in Turkmenistan.
Jilani Farhad, a spokesperson for the governor of Herat province, said that the authorities are preparing to deploy new troops to retake the port of Islam Qala, the largest trade crossing point between Iran and Afghanistan.
“The reinforcements have not been sent to Islam Kala. They will be sent there soon,” he told AFP.
The Afghan government has repeatedly denied that the Taliban’s proceeds have little strategic value, but the seizure of multiple border crossings and mineral-rich areas may provide several new sources of income for the organization’s treasury.
Biden stated that the US military mission will end on August 31—nearly 20 years after it started—but he acknowledged that it is “extremely unlikely” that Kabul will control the entire country.
“The status quo is not an option,” Biden said of staying in the country. “I will not send another generation of Americans to fight in Afghanistan.”
Since the Taliban have destroyed most of northern Afghanistan in recent weeks, the government only owns a cluster of provincial capitals, which must be reinforced and air-supplied to a large extent.
Even before the Taliban’s lightning offensive overwhelmed the government’s northern and western positions, the Air Force was already under severe pressure, putting further pressure on the country’s limited aircraft and pilots.
Biden said that only the Afghan people can determine their future, but he acknowledged the uncertainty of what the future will look like.
When asked if the Taliban takeover is inevitable, the president said: “No, it’s not the case.”
However, he admitted that “the possibility of the unified government of Afghanistan controlling the entire country is extremely small.”