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Afghan Government Deploys Additional Forces To Counter Taliban Assault In North

AFGHANISTAN -- Afghan Commando forces armoured convoy leaves toward the front line, at the Ghorband District, Parwan Province Afghanistan June 29, 2021.

Afghan authorities say they have deployed hundreds of commandos and pro-government militiamen to counter the Taliban's rapid advance in the country's north.

The militants have primarily focused on a devastating campaign across the northern countryside, seizing dozens of districts in the past two months as international troops exit Afghanistan.

Fawad Aman, a Defense Ministry spokesman, said the government was now planning a major offensive to recapture "the lost territories from the enemy."

"Our forces are being organized on the ground for this operation," Aman told the AFP news agency on July 6.

Troops and pro-government militia were deployed on July 6 in the northern province of Takhar and northeastern Badakhshan, where the Taliban have captured swathes of territory in recent weeks, often without any fighting.

Underscoring the rapid collapse of Afghan security forces, 1,030 Afghan troops fled into Tajikistan overnight, Tajik border guards said on July 5.

Hundreds of Afghan security forces have fled swift Taliban advances in the north, but the latest retreats were the largest yet confirmed.

Tajik authorities say that two-thirds of the 1,357-kilometer-long border with Afghanistan is under Taliban control and they are preparing for an influx of refugees to enter the country.

Following a top security meeting on July 5, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon ordered 20,000 reserve officers to the Tajik-Afghan border.

Russia, which operates a 7,000-strong military base in Tajikistan, says it's closely monitoring the situation in northern Afghanistan.

On July 6, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko said the military base was fully equipped to help secure Tajikistan's border with Afghanistan, but he pointed out that Moscow was ready to take "additional measures" if needed.

Speaking to reporters in Kabul on July 6, national-security adviser Hamdullah Mohib said that Afghan authorities had been in close contact with Central Asian countries who "are very concerned" about the deterioration of security situation in Afghanistan.

"If the situation worsens in Afghanistan, it will directly impact their own security situation, as there are many militants [from Central Asia] fighting alongside insurgents in Afghanistan, and they will inevitably raise the threats for Central Asian states," Mohib said.

'We Promise To Fight': Afghan Military Braces For Taliban Offensive In Northeast
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Since President Joe Biden in April announced U.S. troops would withdraw, the Taliban has unleashed a quick offensive and now controls about one-third of the country's roughly 400 districts.

With Washington aiming to exit the country in the coming weeks, there are increasing concerns that the Western-backed government in Kabul may collapse.

On July 2, all international troops left Bagram Airfield, the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan.

With reporting by AFP, Reuters, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan, and RFE/RL's Tajik Service
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