Taliban presses on as Afghan president vows 'no surrender'

Taliban presses on as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani vows 'no surrender'
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Despite the Taliban pressing on across many parts of the country, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said surrender will not happen, 'even if [the Taliban] fought for 100 years'.
President Ashraf Ghani was defiant in his remarks on Tuesday [Pete Marovich-Pool/Getty-archive]

The Afghan Taliban is pressing on across many parts of the country and claims to have seized numerous districts on Tuesday.

For its part, the Kabul-based authorities have launched airstrikes taking the lives of many of the Islamist militants, The New Arab's Arabic-language sister service Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid took to Twitter to discuss the group's gains.

Muhajid claimed that the Taliban had overrun the entire Baghdis Province, which borders Turkmenistan. This included every locale and every one of the authorities' bases.

He also claimed that the Taliban has taken control of Badakhshan's Shighnan District. Muhajid alleged that government forces had escaped into Tajikistan there.

On Monday, reports suggested that over 1,000 of Afghanistan's soldiers had made this journey.

It is not immediately apparent if any of the soldiers who crossed the border during the Taliban's effort in Shighnan are included in this number.

However, losses have reportedly also been suffered by the Taliban.

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Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported that Kabul's interior ministry released a statement explaining that the air force had taken out 35 militants late on Monday following an attempt to seize a district in Laghman Province.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani released a defiant message on Tuesday after addressing the cabinet.

He said: "If the [Taliban] movement is looking for the Afghan government to surrender before it, then that is a dream that will not be realised even if it fought for 100 years".

The leader said the Islamic faction would be responsible for whatever damage is caused by the fighting, and that the group "preferred war over peace and has chosen the way of war instead of negotiations to resolve the crisis".

He urged that Kabul's forces now step up and "preserve the dignity and freedom of the people", and that those made to flee by the violence be given the necessary humanitarian assistance.

This latest surge in government-Taliban fighting comes as the US presses on with its withdrawal from Afghanistan for 11 September, the twentieth anniversary of the World Trade Center terror attacks in New York.

However, Washington's departure from the crucial Bagram Airfield last Friday has raised eyebrows.

It was reported by The Associated Press that the Americans shut off the electricity and slipped away into the night without notifying the base's new Afghan commander, according to Afghan military officials.

The airfield also includes a prison with about 5,000 prisoners, many of them allegedly Taliban.

The Associated Press said US military spokesman Col. Sonny Leggett on Monday did not address the specific complaints of the many Afghan soldiers who inherited their abandoned airfield. Instead, he referred to a statement issued last week.

The statement said the handover had been in the process soon after President Joe Biden's mid-April announcement that America was withdrawing the last of its forces.

He said in that statement that they had coordinated their departures with Afghanistan's leaders.