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Afghan forces prepare to recapture key border crossing from Taliban: Officials

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Afghan security personnel stand guard along the road amid ongoing fight between Afghan security forces and the Taliban in Kandahar on July 9, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Afghan authorities say they are prepared to recapture a key border crossing in western Afghanistan that has fallen to the Taliban.

The militant group said it had seized two crossings in western Afghanistan on Friday.

Herat governor spokesman Jilani Farhad said Saturday that Afghan authorities were deploying reinforcements to retake Islam Qala post, the biggest trade crossing between Iran and Afghanistan.

"They will be sent there soon," Farhad told AFP.

The Taliban say they now hold 85 percent of Afghanistan, controlling about 250 of the country's nearly 400 districts.

The group on Saturday captured a district in the province of Laghman, neighboring Kabul.

Local Afghan officials, meanwhile, said the militants captured an important district in Herat province, home to tens of thousands of minority Shia Hazaras.

The militant group have historically persecuted Shia and Hazara communities in the country. 

Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry spokesman Tareq Arian said efforts were under way to dislodge the Taliban from their newly acquired positions.

Since the US started the formal withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan, in May — with a delay in a deadline agreed with the Taliban — the militants have intensified attacks across the country.

This has prompted China, another neighbor, to accuse Washington of conducting a hasty and chaotic withdrawal, after almost 20 years of war in the county.

“The US disregards its responsibilities and duties and withdraws troops from Afghanistan hastily, dumping the mess and war on the Afghan people and countries in the region," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a briefing on Friday.

China urged its citizens to leave Afghanistan "as soon as possible."

The "complex and severe domestic security situation" prompted the evacuation warning, said the ministry.

Earlier this week, Russia also criticized the US and its NATO allies for having failed to stabilize the country after two decades of war and occupation.

“They were unable to achieve visible results when it comes to stabilizing the situation during the decades they spent there,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the US military said it had withdrawn more than 90 percent of its troops and equipment from Afghanistan.

The US Central Command said in a statement that the military had officially handed over seven facilities to the Afghan Defense Ministry. The Pentagon has also flown an equivalent of approximately 980 loads of material out of the country by large cargo aircraft, it said.

US President Joe Biden, who ordered the final phase of the pullout from Afghanistan, is now seeking authorization for deadly drone strikes and commando raids in Afghanistan after the withdrawal.

Citing military officials, CNN reported that the Biden administration “will retain authority to strike the Taliban even after US military forces officially leave.”

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