The Taliban said Friday it now controls 85 percent of Afghanistan’s territory as the militants mount an offensive amid a US military withdrawal, though the group’s claims cannot be independently verified.
At a press conference in Moscow, Taliban negotiator Shahabuddin Delawar said that “85 percent 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.
Delawar said that 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 added that there was no agreement with the United States for the Taliban not to attack administrative centres, though he said that it will not take them “by force”.
This week more than 1,000 Afghan troops fled into Tajikistan after a blistering offensive by the Taliban in the north of Afghanistan.
Afghan authorities have vowed to retake all the districts lost to the insurgents and deployed hundreds of commandos to counter their offensive in the north.
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.