Authorities said that after clashes with Taliban militants, more than 1,000 Afghan soldiers fled to neighboring Tajikistan.
According to a statement from the Tajik Border Guard, the troops withdrew to the border to “save their lives.” In recent weeks, the Taliban have made significant progress, especially in the north of the country. This growth coincides with the end of NATO’s 20-year military mission.
The vast majority of remaining foreign troops in Afghanistan have already withdrawn before the September deadline. There are fears that the Afghan army, which is supposed to take over the country’s security, will collapse. According to the agreement reached with the Taliban, the United States and its NATO allies agreed to withdraw all troops in exchange for the radicals’ promise not to do so. Any extremist organization is allowed to carry out activities in the areas under their control, but the Taliban does not agree to stop fighting with the Afghan army, and it is reported that they now control about a third of the country. This evacuation is the third time that Afghan soldiers have fled to Tajikistan in the past.
This was the fifth case in three days and the past two weeks, and in total, about 1,600 soldiers crossed the border. The National Security Council of Tajikistan said that the last group of Afghan troops sought refuge in the early hours of Monday morning after fighting militants overnight. The Taliban are advancing quickly, and militants have now occupied most of the territory. “The Taliban cut all roads and these people have nowhere to go and can only cross the border,” a senior Afghan official told Reuters on Monday. A member of Badakhshan said that the army used several routes to escape. The Tajik border guards said that the Afghan soldiers were given shelter and food, but did not provide further details. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani insisted that the country’s security forces are fully capable of holding the insurgents in the Gulf, but there are also reports that more soldiers are seeking refuge in Pakistan and Uzbekistan.
If the fighting continues to escalate, they are preparing for the possible influx of refugees. Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen told the BBC that the organization is not responsible for the recent surge in violence. He insisted that after Afghan soldiers refused to participate in the war, many areas have fallen into the Taliban through mediation. BBC Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet said this is a worrying moment for the Afghan people.
The Taliban, accused of various cultural and human rights violations, support Islamic punishment, such as the public execution of convicted murderers, the ban on television, music, and movies, and the disapproval of schooling for girls aged 10 and over. “Not sure where their country will go, not sure about their own village or town or city, not sure about their own lives and the future of their families,” he said. One of them is Zahra, a 25-year-old resident of Kabul, who is worried about the future.
“The situation in Afghanistan is really delicate, and people are looking forward to war on a larger scale than ever before. Many people in Kabul worry that the Taliban can contact us at any time,” she said.