UN Afghan envoy Deborah Lyons alarmed at Taliban gains

UN Afghan envoy Deborah Lyons alarmed at Taliban gains
Afghan security forces said they would launch an offensive to reclaim lost territory. Source: EPA
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Daily US Times: The United Nations (UN) has warned that Taliban fighters have seized dozens of districts in Afghanistan as they step up attacks during the final withdrawal by foreign troops.

UN special envoy Deborah Lyons told the Security Council that the insurgents have taken more than 50 of 370 districts since May. The UN envoy warned the world of “dire scenarios”.

She said increased conflict i n Afghanistan “means increased insecurity for many other countries, near and far”.

Nato and the US are still aiming for a complete troop pullout by 11 September.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the situation in Afghanistan remained “dynamic” and, although the Taliban gains had not changed the withdrawal, there was still the flexibility to alter its “pace and scope”.

Taliban’s recent advances were the result of an “intensified military campaign”, Ms Lyons told the 15-member UN Security Council in New York.

She added: “Those districts that have been taken surround provincial capitals, suggesting that the Taliban are positioning themselves to try and take these capitals once foreign forces are fully withdrawn.”

The hardline Islamist group’s also captured Afghanistan’s main border crossing with Tajikistan on Tuesday, officials said. The crossing stands in the northern province of Kunduz, where fighting has escalated in recent days.

Taliban fighters say they have control of the whole province, with only the provincial capital retained by the government. But the Afghan defence ministry said Afghan forces had recaptured some districts and operations were ongoing.

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