Taliban claim to control 85 percent of Afghanistan
The Taliban claimed on July 9 to be in control of 85 percent of Afghanistan after seizing key border crossings with Iran and Turkmenistan, part of a sweeping offensive launched as US troops pull out of the war-torn nation.
Hours after President Joe Biden issued a staunch defence of the U.S. withdrawal, the Taliban said its fighters had seized the two vital crossings in western Afghanistan - completing an arc of territory from the Iranian border to the frontier with China.
In Moscow, a delegation of Taliban officials said they controlled about 250 of Afghanistan's nearly 400 districts - a claim impossible to independently verify and disputed by the government.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid separately told AFP their fighters had captured the border town of Islam Qala on the Iranian frontier and the Torghundi crossing with Turkmenistan.
Afghanistan's interior ministry spokesman Tareq Arian said efforts were under way to dislodge the insurgents from their positions.
The Afghan government has repeatedly dismissed the Taliban's gains as having little strategic value, but the seizure of multiple border crossings along with mineral-rich areas will likely fill the group's coffers with several sources of new revenue.
Hours earlier, Biden said the U.S. military mission would end on August 31 - nearly 20 years after it began - having "achieved" its goals.
But he admitted it was "highly unlikely" Kabul would be able to 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 war in Afghanistan."
With the Taliban having routed much of northern Afghanistan in recent weeks, the government holds little more than a...