News ID: 92245
Publish Date : 09 July 2021 - 21:45
Taliban Capture Islam Qala Border Conduit

KABUL/TEHRAN -- The Taliban said Friday they had captured a key border crossing with Iran where a military commander stressed that the situation is under control.
The group have captured more than a third of the country’s 400 districts since the U.S. accelerated its final pullout in early May, with the insurgents now holding an arc of territory from the Iranian border to the frontier with China.
A government official said efforts were under way to recapture Islam Qala -- the main conduit for trade between Afghanistan and Iran -- as the insurgents continue to make sweeping gains across the country.
“All Afghan security forces including the border units are present in the area, and efforts are under way to recapture the site,” interior ministry spokesman Tareq Arian told AFP.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the crossing was “under our full control”.
Hours earlier, President Joe Biden said the U.S. military mission will end on August 31 -- nearly 20 years after it began -- having “achieved” its goals.
“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.”
Brigadier General Farhad Arianfar, deputy chief of the Iranian Army Ground Force’s Operations, said Friday full security is preserved at Iran’s eastern borders.
“With the clever presence and efforts of the Iranian Ground Force in hundreds of kilometers along the eastern borders, as well as the efforts of zealous border guards in the border areas with Sistan and Baluchestan Province and coordination with the dear forces of the IRGC, we closely monitor the slightest movements near the borders and will not allow the slightest illegal motion through these borders,” he said.
General Arianfar made the remarks during a visit to Iran’s eastern borders.
“The southeastern and eastern borders of the country are under 24-hour surveillance and are fully secure,” he added.
After the Taliban routed much of northern Afghanistan in recent weeks, the government is holding little more than a constellation of provincial capitals.
Biden said the United States “did not go to Afghanistan to nation-build” and that the Afghan people alone should determine their future.
Asked if a Taliban takeover was “inevitable”, the president said: “No, it is not.”
But, he admitted, “The likelihood there is going to be one unified government in Afghanistan controlling the whole country is highly unlikely.”
The Taliban, for their part, welcomed Biden’s statement. “Any day or hour that U.S. and foreign troops leave earlier is a positive step,” spokesman Suhail Shaheen told AFP.
Afghan commandos and the insurgents have clashed this week in a provincial capital for the first time, with thousands of people fleeing Qala-i-Naw in northwest Badghis province.
President Ashraf Ghani said the government could handle the situation, but admitted difficulties lay ahead.
“What we are witnessing is one of the most complicated stages of the transition,” he said in a speech in Kabul. “Legitimacy is ours; God is with us.”
The Taliban have been emboldened by the troop withdrawal and with peace talks with the government deadlocked, appear to be pressing for a full military victory.
Still, on Thursday a member of the negotiating team in Doha insisted the insurgents were seeking a “negotiated settlement”.
“We do not believe in monopoly of power,” Shaheen told AFP.
A veteran Afghan warlord vowed Friday to again take up arms as the insurgents closed in on his Herat stronghold in the west.
“We will soon go to the frontlines and with the help of God change the situation,” said Ismail Khan, once a leading member of an alliance of guerrilla fighters who battled the Taliban during the U.S. invasion after the September 11 attacks.
Khan hails from Herat city, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Islam Qala, the main border crossing with Iran.
Khan, 75, blamed the government for the rapidly deteriorating situation and urged the military to show more backbone.
“A lack of attention, incorrect information and many other reasons have led to the fall of the districts,” Khan said. “We demand all the remaining security forces resist with courage.”
Khan told a news conference that hundreds of civilians from across the country had approached him saying they were ready to fight the Taliban.
In recent days, social media networks have been flooded with photographs and videos of prominent Afghans, including lawmakers, taking up arms along with their supporters to fight the insurgents.
Some videos that cannot be verified have shown hundreds of women, also with weapons, vowing to fight.
“We hope that men and women of Herat decide at this moment to support the resistance front to defend their freedom and safeguard their honor,” Khan said.

Iran’s Peace Efforts

Iran’s Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif on Thursday advised all political sides involved in the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan to end the war as soon as possible and pave the way for the development of the war-ravaged country.
“A nation who has been suffering for 40 years has every right to be opposed to war. What I want from you is to take advantage of this opportunity and end the war in Afghanistan as soon as possible to provide the people of Afghanistan with an opportunity for development,” he told the final session of intra-Afghan talks in Tehran.
“The Islamic Republic is always ready to facilitate the continuation of your talks in any way you wish,” Zarif stressed.
“Showing courage in peace is more important than showing courage in war; because to achieve peace, one must sacrifice and forgive and ignore maximum demands and heed the demands of the other side, especially in these negotiations where ... both sides are brothers and in pursuit of peace and well-being of the Afghan nation.”
At the end of the meeting, the two Afghan delegates issued a joint statement in which they thanked Iran’s efforts to restore peace to Afghanistan.
Having acknowledged the risks emanating from continued war and the damage it would inflict on the country, the two sides agreed that war was not a solution to the issue of Afghanistan and that all efforts needed to be directed towards reaching a political and peaceful solution.
The warring parties described the Tehran meeting as a new opportunity to reinforce the political solution to the Afghan crisis.
The two sides strongly condemned attacks that target people’s homes, government offices, mosques and hospitals as well as the destruction of public institutions, and called for the perpetrators to be punished.
Amid the escalation of fighting in Afghanistan, Tehran on Wednesday hosted four delegations, including representatives of the Afghan government and parliament, the Taliban group and prominent figures supporting the Republic system in the war-torn country.
The Afghan government’s delegation was headed by former Vice President of Afghanistan Yunus Qanuni, and Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanikzai, the head of Taliban’s political office in Qatar’s Doha, also led the militant group’s delegation to Tehran.
“Iran proves it’s a reliable friend, brother, neighbor to Afghanistan,” former deputy foreign minister Hussein Amir-Abdollahian tweeted.

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