Afghanistan’s main crossing with Tajikistan remains under the Taliban’s control as the armed group continues its sweeping offensive across the country.
They captured the Jani Khel district of Paktia Province early on Wednesday after heavy clashes with Afghan security forces, Taliban and Afghan official sources told TRT World.
"District center, police headquarters and government buildings are under complete control," a Taliban source said.
Tuesday's capture of the Shir Khan Bandar, in the far north of Afghanistan, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) from Kunduz city, is the most significant gain for the Taliban since the US began the final stage of its troop withdrawal in May.
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The take over of the border crossing forced government forces to leave all check posts and cross the border into Tajikistan.
Since early May, the Taliban have launched several major offensives targeting government forces and say they have seized over 80 of the country's 421 districts, although many of their claims are disputed by the government and difficult to independently verify.
Hospital hit in Kunar
Suspected Taliban fighters fired a rocket into a hospital on Wednesday, sparking a blaze that caused extensive damage and destroyed Covid-19 vaccines though there were no reports of casualties, government officials said.
“Different types of vaccine, including doses meant to fight polio and Covid-19 were destroyed in the fire,” said Kunar health official Aziz Safai.
Afghanistan has reported 4,366 deaths due to Covid-19 infections and 107,957 cases, as of Wednesday.
Many health officials say the real number of coronavirus infections is likely much higher but many cases are not being detected because of little testing.
The Taliban denied responsibility of the attack on the hospital.
Deborah Lyons told the UN Security Council that the announcement earlier this year that foreign troops would withdraw sent a "seismic tremor" through Afghanistan.
"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suggesting that the Taliban are positioning themselves to try and take these capitals once foreign forces are fully withdrawn," Lyons said.
After 20 years, the United States has started to withdraw its remaining 2,500 troops in Afghanistan and aims to be completely out of the country by September 11.
Afghan security forces kill at least 50 Taliban fighters while insurgents capture main border crossing with Tajikistanhttps://t.co/vMTox0BpIP— DAILY SABAH (@DailySabah) June 22, 2021
About 7,000 non-US personnel from mainly NATO countries - along with Australia, New Zealand and Georgia - are also planning to leave by that date.
"All of the major trends - politics, security, the peace process, the economy, the humanitarian emergency, and of course Covid - all of these trends are negative or stagnate," Lyons told the 15-member Security Council. "The possible slide toward dire scenarios is undeniable."
US-backed Afghan forces toppled the Taliban from power in late 2001 for refusing to hand over al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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