Afghan Taliban capture 85 percent of Afghanistan territory

Afghan Taliban capture 85 percent of Afghanistan territory

MOSCOW — The Afghan Taliban said on Friday that 85 percent of Afghanistan's territory was under their control.

The Taliban claim comes as the group continues its offensive amid the US military withdrawal from the war-torn country.

At a press conference in Moscow, Taliban negotiator Shahabuddin Delawar said that "85% of Afghanistan's territory" is under the group's control, including some 250 of the country's 398 districts.

"All administrative bodies and hospitals continue their work on this territory. We ensured their functionality," he said, calling on international organisations "not to interrupt their missions."

Delawar said the US withdrawal was a result of the Taliban bringing Afghanistan's population over to its side under the "principle of Islam".

"The United States was forced to leave our territory," he said.

He said there was no agreement with the United States for the Taliban not to attack administrative centres remaining under Kabul's control. "These are our internal affairs," Delawar said.

More than 1,000 Afghan troops fled into Tajikistan this week after a blistering offensive by the Taliban in the north of Afghanistan.

Afghan authorities have vowed to retake all the districts lost to the group and deployed hundreds of commandos to counter their offensive in the north.

Russia is closely watching the offensive, concerned about the security of Central Asian countries where it maintains military bases.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Friday the Taliban "currently controls about two-thirds" of Afghanistan's border with ex-Soviet Tajikistan.

On Thursday, a Taliban delegation in Moscow met with the Kremlin's envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, while the Russian foreign ministry released a statement saying that it had received assurances Central Asian borders would not be violated.

According to reports, a delegation of the Taliban visited Moscow primarily to offer assurances that their quick gains on the ground in Afghanistan do not threaten Russia or its allies in Central Asia.

US President Joe Biden on Thursday defended his country's withdrawal from Afghanistan, though he admitted that it was "highly unlikely" Kabul would be able to control the entire country.