Half of all Afghanistan district centers under Taliban control: Top US general

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The Taliban control half of the roughly 420 district centers in Afghanistan, the top US general said on Wednesday, in the latest sign of the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan.

General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that more than 200 of the 419 district centers were under Taliban control.

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Late last month, Milley had said the Taliban controlled 81 of the 419 district centers in Afghanistan.

“Strategic momentum appears to be sort of with the Taliban,” Milley told reporters.

While the insurgent group had not taken over any provincial capitals, they were putting pressure on the outskirts of half of them, he added.

The government has accused the Taliban of destroying hundreds of government buildings in 29 of the country’s 34 provinces. The Taliban deny accusations of extensive destruction by their fighters.

Fifteen diplomatic missions and the NATO representative in Afghanistan urged the Taliban on Monday to halt its offensives just hours after the rival Afghan sides failed to agree on a ceasefire at a peace meeting in Doha.

Biden has set a formal end to the US military mission in Afghanistan for Aug. 31 as he looks to disengage from a conflict that began after al Qaeda’s attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.

Almost all US troops, except those protecting the embassy in Kabul and airport, have left the country.

Read more: US peace envoy Khalilzad visits Islamabad as Pakistan-Afghan relations sour

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