The Taliban militants have captured another three districts in the last 24 hours, sources said.
According to the sources, Dahana-i-Ghori district in Baghlan province; Awba district in Herat; and Shirin Tagab district in Faryab province were captured by the Taliban, bringing the total fallen districts to 37 since May 1.
In Herat, the Awba district fell to the Taliban early Friday morning following days of heavy clashes between the Afghan army and the militants.
Sources said that an army base was under siege by the Taliban for four days and the Afghan forces retreated from the district this morning.
In Baghlan, the Afghan forces retreated from the Dahana-i-Ghori district on Thursday night.
Amanullah Sanjani, an army commander, was killed in the skirmish.
Meanwhile, the provincial council of Faryab stated that the Shirin Tagab district of the province was fallen to the Taliban following a heavy skirmish with the insurgents.
The Taliban released footage from the district that appears to show that dozens of Afghan forces have surrendered to the group. No credible source, however, confirmed the footage.
According to Ariana News findings, at least 195 members of the Afghan Security and Defense Forces (ANSDF) have been killed and 105 others wounded in Faryab, Kunduz, Takhar, Herat, Baghlan, and Sar-e-Pul provinces this week.
The Afghan Army stated that at least 256 Taliban militants were killed and 150 more wounded in air and ground operations across the country.
This comes as the Taliban capturedthe Shinkai district of Zabul province without any clash fighting after mediation by tribal elders and local officials, sources said.
The footage shows that militants are escorting the Afghan Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) out to the provincial capital Qatal city.
“Its Zabul DG, officials and ANDSF convoy that was escorted by Taliban security from Shinkai district till Qalat city. This deal was mediated by DG, tribal elders. The mediation was that Shinkai and ANDSF weapons are handover over to the Taliban. Big shame!” Haji AttaJan Haqbayan tweeted.
Haqbayan warned that the Zabul province would also collapse to the hands of the Taliban “if the situation goes this way.”
He also shared a video of an Afghan army officer, who was on duty in ANA Battalion of Shinkai district, who is saying that hundreds of weapons were seized by the Taliban,
“Provincial officials of Zabul must be investigated,” Haqbayan said.
Afghan Army, meanwhile, confirmed that the Taliban overrun district.
Exiled Afghan politicians form council, call for talks with IEA
A number of exiled Afghan politicians recently gathered in Turkey’s capital Ankara where they formed a council and called on the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) to engage in talks with them.
The politicians met at the residence of former vice-president Abdul Rashid Dostum and included Abdu Rab-ur-Rasool Sayyaf, Atta Mohammad Noor, Mohammad Mohaqiq, Karim Khalili, Ahmad Wali Masoud, Mohammad Alam Ezidyar and Mir Rahman Rahmani.
Ehsan Nero, a spokesman for Dostum, said that the meeting was held to exchange views on how “we could change the challenging situation in Afghanistan.”
While urging talks with IEA, the politicians issued a statement and declared support for the conflict that is underway in some provinces in the country.
“Such a large meeting was held in Turkey with the Turkish police providing security. They will meet again in Austria two weeks later and then in Geneva. There is certainly something fishy going on,” said Ahmad Saeedi, a political analyst.
Habibullah Janibdar, another political analyst, however, said that such meetings would not help Afghanistan as Afghans have already tested these politicians.
The IEA meanwhile has already formed a commission to encourage Afghans in exile to return home.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the IEA, said that the “door for talks is already open.”
“We have no problems with any Afghan. We would welcome anyone returning. They would be protected. They would be respected. Their wealth would be safe,” Mujahid said.
“But Allah forbid, if they intend to start a war, then obviously Afghans won’t allow it,” Mujahid warned.
IEA claims it supports local media but urges them to stick to Islamic values
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) said Thursday it will support and cooperate with media outlets and journalists, both local and foreign, but urged them to observe Islamic principles and keep the interests of the country in mind.
Zabihullah Mujahid, the IEA’s spokesman said: “Today, the Media Violations Commission resumed its operations and the Information Access Commission will start its activities as soon as possible in the near future.”
He said the IEA is committed to supporting media outlets in the country in accordance with Sharia Law.
However, Mujahid urged media organizations to stick to Islamic values and principles in terms of broadcasting and publishing.
Mujahid said: “The government will continue to support media outlets financially and we will work to reduce the media’s problems to zero. We call on media officials to carry on their operations based on the principles of Islam.”
According to the Ministry of Information and Culture, currently, about 198 media outlets operate in the country, however, nearly 170 media organizations have closed down, largely due to financial constraints, since the collapse of the former government.
Many of these media organizations have lost staff who left Afghanistan after the US troops withdrawal while other, that were reliant on foreign donor money, lost all income.
Media support organizations have said that an estimated 6,000 media workers have left the country since the IEA take over.
US looking to expand ties with Pakistan: Blinken
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday told Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari that US President Joe Biden’s administration was looking forward to working with the new government in Pakistan and discussed “expanding partnership” between the two countries.
The meeting took place in New York on the sidelines of the food security meeting that the US is hosting in collaboration with the UN.
The meeting between Bilawal and Blinken came against the backdrop of strained ties between Pakistan and the US. The relationship during the PTI government between the two countries remained tense and there had been further dip in ties when former premier Imran Khan directly held the US responsible for his ouster, Pakistan’s Tribune reported.
Blinken said the US was keen to expand partnership with Pakistan on a range of issues covering economic as well as regional security issues.
According to a State Department statement, Blinken met with Bilawal to affirm the shared desire for a strong and prosperous bilateral relationship.
“The Secretary and the Foreign Minister discussed expanding partnership in climate, investment, trade, and health as well as people-to-people ties,” the statement read.
It further said the two foreign ministers underscored the importance of US-Pakistan cooperation on regional peace, counterterrorism, Afghan stability, support for Ukraine, and democratic principles.
The foreign minister added that as the current chair of the G77 and China, Pakistan welcomed the support of the UN secretary general to the objectives pursued by the developing countries at the global organisation.
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