In Moscow for talks, Taliban say they control 85% of Afghanistan

Taliban political members at a press conference in Moscow. Reuters

Kabul/Moscow- Taliban officials said on Friday the Sunni Muslim insurgent group had taken control of 85% of territory in Afghanistan, and international concern mounted over problems getting medicines and supplies into the country. Taliban also said it had made no promise to the US not to attack Afghan administrative centres

Afghan officials dismissed the Taliban assertion, but local officials said Taliban fighters, emboldened by the withdrawal, had captured an important district in Herat province, home to tens of thousands of minority Shi’ite Hazaras.

Hundreds of Afghan security personnel and refugees continued to flee across the border into neighbouring Iran and Tajikistan, causing concern in Moscow and other foreign capitals that radical Islamists could infiltrate Central Asia.

Three visiting Taliban officials sought to address those concerns during a visit to Moscow. “We will take all measures so that Islamic State will not operate on Afghan territory… and our territory will never be used against our neighbours,” one of the Taliban officials, Shahabuddin Delawar, told a news conference. He said “you and the entire world community have probably recently learned that 85% of the territory of Afghanistan has come under the control” of the Taliban.

Meanwhile, WHO Regional Emergencies Director Rick Brennan said at least 18.4 million people required humanitarian assistance, including 3.1 million children at risk of acute malnutrition. He said health workers were struggling to get medicines and supplies into Afghanistan.

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