The group continues to advance as foreign forces withdraw, with sources saying some Afghan security officials have fled to Iran.
Taliban fighters have taken control of a key district in western Afghanistan that includes a major border crossing with Iran, Afghan security officials said, as the armed group continues its rapid military advances everywhere. of the country.
In the past week, the Taliban have crossed border areas with five countries (Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, China and Pakistan) as foreign forces end their 20-year intervention and the internal security situation deteriorates.
In the northern Balkh province, bordering Uzbekistan, battles also broke out between Taliban fighters and Afghan government forces.
Two senior security officials told Reuters news agency on condition of anonymity that Islam Qala’s border crossing with Iran, located in Herat province, had fallen into the hands of the Taliban and that Afghan security and customs officials they had fled the border.
Alalam TV, Iran’s official Arabic service, also reported that Afghan soldiers had entered Iranian territory through the border crossing to escape the Taliban.
Tariq Arian, a spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry, denied the reports and said the border crossing was still under the control of government forces.
Reuters calls to provincial governor’s offices and police went unanswered.
Another security official said Taliban fighters had seized five districts in Herat without a fight.
Earlier this week, more than 1,000 Afghan security agents fled to Tajikistan while the Taliban captured most of the northern province of Badakhshan, which also borders China and Pakistan.
The defense ministry said Afghan government forces withdrew control of Qala-e-Naw, the capital of western Badghis province, on Thursday. assaulted by the Taliban on Wednesday.
Hundreds of troops were deployed in the region, the ministry said, adding that fighting continued on the outskirts of Qala-e-Naw, where the Taliban had previously seized key government buildings in the city, including the headquarters of the police.
“The city is full [back] under our control and we are conducting operations against the Taliban on the outskirts of the city, “Defense Ministry spokesman Fawad Aman said.
The ministry said 69 Taliban fighters were killed in operations on the outskirts of Qala-e-Naw, the first major provincial capital the fighters entered in their latest offensive.
The rest of Badghis Province is in the hands of the Taliban. Western security officials say the Taliban have captured more than 100 districts in Afghanistan.
The Taliban say it has more than 200 districts in 34 provinces comprising more than half of the country. Major cities remain under government control.
The group has been gaining ground for weeks, but accelerated its momentum when the United States left its main Afghan base, effectively ending an intervention that began with the overthrow of the Taliban government in 2001.
Taliban advances have been especially dramatic in the northern provinces, where they have long been on the line.
Peace talks to be initiated between the government and the group remain inconclusive. Taliban delegations visited Iran on Wednesday and were in Moscow on Thursday.
Defending the decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan, President Joe Biden dit on Thursday he did not expect the Taliban to take charge of the entire country and he relied on the Afghan army.
“We’re ending America’s longest war,” he said.