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Taliban Captures Another Afghan District As Battle Rages Ahead Of International Troop Pullout

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Members of the Afghan security forces take their positions during an ongoing clash between Taliban and Afghan forces in Mihtarlam, the capital of Laghman Province, on May 24.

The Taliban has captured another district center in Afghanistan, adding to the insurgent group's recent military gains since the start of the withdrawal of international troops from the war-torn country.

Government forces abandoned the center of the Dawlat Abad district in the northern province of Faryab and retreated to a nearby district, a security source told RFE/RL on June 8.

A member of the provincial council, Abdul Ahad Alibek, said the fate of more than a dozen members of the security forces remained unclear because the telecommunications system in the area was down.

Ground support was impossible because the insurgents controlled all routes leading to the district, Alibek said.

Several districts across Afghanistan have fallen to the Taliban since the beginning of the official withdrawal of the United States and other NATO troops on May 1.

Afghan officials have said the Taliban had taken control of at least two other districts -- in Uruzgan and Badghis provinces -- since June 6.

They also claimed on June 7 that more than 70 Taliban fighters were killed in fighting in Paktia, Baghlan, Nangarhar, Logar, and Badghis provinces in the preceding 24 hours.

U.S. President Joe Biden has given the military until September 11 to pull out all American troops from Afghanistan following two decades of war.

Marine General Kenneth McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command, told reporters on June 7 that the withdrawal from Afghanistan is on pace and “continuing very smoothly.”

McKenzie said the pullout was “about halfway finished,” without providing details.

The U.S. military is removing its 2,500 troops, 16,000 civilian contractors, and hundreds of tons of equipment by September 11, the deadline set by President Joe Biden.

A statement on June 8 from U.S. Central Command said the control of six military installations has been handed over to the Afghan Defense Ministry.

The withdrawal so far has largely involved removing or otherwise disposing of equipment and other materials that accumulated in Afghanistan over the years -- not the departure of troops, according to the Associated Press, quoting officials speaking on condition of anonymity.

The military has turned over nearly 13,000 pieces of equipment to the Defense Logistics Agency for disposition, the statement said. This equipment is almost entirely “federal excess personal property” and does not consist of defensive articles or major equipment.

The military will no longer issue updates on withdrawal percentages in order to preserve the security of its operations, the statement said.

With reporting by dpa, TOLOnews, AP, and AFP
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