Three Taliban officials, who are visiting the Russian capital Moscow, said that they will take all steps to make sure that Islamic State does not function on Afghan territory.
At a press conference in Moscow, Taliban negotiator Shahabuddin Delawar said that “85% 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, calling on international organisations “not to interrupt their missions.”
Afghan government officials, however, quashed the claims, calling it propaganda. But local officials said Taliban fighters, stirred by the withdrawal, have already captured a vital district in Herat province that houses several minority Shi’ite Hazaras, according to news agency Reuters.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Friday that the Taliban “currently controls about two-thirds” of Afghanistan’s border with ex-Soviet Tajikistan.
On Thursday, a Taliban delegation in Moscow met with the Kremlin’s envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, while the Russian foreign ministry released a statement saying that it had received assurances Central Asian borders would not be violated.
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.