- Hundreds of Afghan soldiers fled to neighboring Tajikistan in the face of Taliban advances.
- The Taliban has been gaining ground in parts of Afghanistan as the US withdraws its forces.
- The top US general in Afghanistan has said that the security situation is “not good.”
More than 1,000 Afghan soldiers retreated and fled the country into neighboring Tajikistan on Sunday night in the face of Taliban advances, according to multiple reports.
“The Taliban cut off all the roads, and these people had nowhere to go but to cross the border,” an Afghan official told Reuters. Tajikistan’s border guard said in a statement that in total, 1,037 Afghan service members crossed into Tajikistan “to save the lives of their personnel.”
The BBC reported that the latest retreat marks the third time in three days Afghan soldiers have fled to Tajikistan and the fifth time in two weeks. Around 1,600 Afghan troops in all have fled across the border so far.
Taliban militants have been swiftly advancing across parts of northern Afghanistan as the security situation deteriorates. In some cases, Afghan forces have surrendered without a fight. At the same time, other Afghan troops and local militias continue to hold their ground against the insurgents, The Washington Post reported.
The US intelligence community has assessed that the Afghan government could collapse within six to 12 months of the completed withdrawal of US forces, if not sooner, The Wall Street Journal recently reported.
When Afghan President Ashraf Ghani visited the White House in late June, he responded to the assessments that the Afghan government could fall after the withdrawal of US troops by saying that “there have been many such predictions, and they have all proven — turned out false .”
Last week, the US military departed Bagram Air Base, its largest base in Afghanistan that has long served as a key operational center for America’s longest war.
The withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, with the exception of security forces guarding diplomatic outposts, is expected to be completed by the end of August.
The Biden administration originally said all US troops would be out by the 20th anniversary of 9/11, but the withdrawal appears to be ahead of schedule.
“You look at the security situation, it’s not good. The Afghans recognize it’s not good. The Taliban are on the move. We are starting to create conditions here that won’t look good for Afghanistan in the future if there’s a push for a military takeover,” Gen. Scott Miller, the top US general in Afghanistan, said in a recent interview.
“We should be concerned,” he said in the interview that aired Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
“The loss of terrain and the rapidity of that loss of terrain has — has to be concerning, one, because it’s a — war is physical, but it’s also got a psychological or moral component to it. And hope actually matters. And morale actually matters,” Miller said.
“As you watch the Taliban moving across the country, what you don’t want to have happen is that the people lose hope and they believe they now have a foregone conclusion presented to them,” he added.
President Joe Biden said during a briefing on Friday that he believes Afghans “have the capacity to be able to sustain the government.” He said the US has been fighting in Afghanistan for almost 20 years and that it is time for the country to take security into its own hands.
The withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, where the US military has been fighting since 2001, stems from an agreement with the Taliban negotiated during the Trump administration and upheld by the Biden administration.