This photo shows Afghan security personnel standing guard in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on Tuesday. AFP
Afghan authorities on Tuesday vowed to retake all the districts lost to the Taliban as the US military said that it completed approximately more than 90 per cent of its withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The US Central Command said in a statement that United States had officially handed over seven facilities to the Afghan Ministry of Defence.
A day after more than 1,000 government troops fled into neighbouring Tajikistan, Afghan authorities on Tuesday vowed to retake all the districts lost to the Taliban and deployed hundreds of commandos to counter the insurgents’ blistering offensive in the north.
Fighting has raged across several provinces, but the insurgents have primarily focused on a devastating campaign across the northern countryside, seizing dozens of districts in the past two months.
US Marines from the 2nd Battalion wait for helicopter transport as part of Operation Khanjar in Afghanistan. AFP
Meanwhile, a diplomat said on Tuesday that Germany has closed its consulate general in Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan in the course of the international military withdrawal.
The consulate general was also situated on the base since a 2016 suicide attack severely damaged the building in Mazar-i-Sharif that originally housed the representation.
Last week, all US and NATO forces left Bagram Air Base near Kabul — the command centre for anti-Taliban operations — effectively wrapping up their exit after 20 years of military involvement that began in the wake of the September 11 attacks.
Afghan authorities says more than 1,000 government troops fled into neighbouring Tajikistan.
"There is war, there is pressure. Sometimes things are working our way. Sometimes they don't, but we will continue to defend the Afghan people," National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib told reporters.
"We have plans to retake the districts," he added.
The Pentagon said on Tuesday they were well on track to completing their pullout of thousands of American forces and civilian contractors by the end of August, just days after turning over the last and largest of seven US bases, Bagram air base north of Kabul, to the Afghan government.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani blames the Taliban for all the "bloodshed and destruction."
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby underscored that the US and NATO coalition partners would continue to support Afghan security forces in the fight with the Taliban, even if there were no coalition troops on the ground.
Afghan defence officials have said they intend to focus on securing major cities, roads and border towns in the face of the Taliban onslaught.
President Ashraf Ghani blamed the Taliban for all the "bloodshed and destruction," adding that his government will not "surrender" to the militants, a palace statement said.
Afghan militia forces stand guard at an outpost as they patrol against the Taliban fighters in Takhar province. AFP
"We had to abandon our base because there was no coordination or interest among our commanders to counter the attack," said one of the soldiers, Mohammad Musa.
But Mohib said the soldiers who fled were returning and rejoining the security forces.
"They may have abandoned their posts because they ran out of ammunition or they ran out of supplies, but by no means has anyone defected to the Taliban," he said.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid accused Ghani of lying and spreading false information as reacting to Ghani's remark on Monday that the ongoing war is an external intrigue imposed on the people of Afghanistan.
Tens of thousands of people flee their homes for the relative safety of Kabul and other centres after Taliban militants captured a sixth provincial capital, along with border towns and trade routes.
The operations, launched on Saturday night, were aimed at foiling attacks planned by the Taliban on Afghan forces, said a senior security official in capital Kabul.
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