The Taliban have captured another provincial capital and NATO calls the situation “difficult and demanding”. The UN fears war crimes will be committed.
The United States and NATO began their military withdrawal from Afghanistan in May, and since then the Taliban have conquered district after district, border crossings with neighboring countries and seven provincial capitals.
On Tuesday, the rebels captured Farah, the provincial capital of the same name.
NATO is now calling on the rebels to halt the advance.
“We share the Security Council’s deep concern about the high level of violence caused by the Taliban’s military offensive, including attacks on civilians and reports of other serious human rights abuses,” said a NATO official.
Will never be recognized
NATO had forces in Afghanistan for 20 years, but according to the official, there is no military solution to the conflict in the country.
– The Taliban must understand that they will never be recognized by the world community if they reject the political process and try to take the country by force. They must stop the attacks and end the peace talks in good faith, the official says.
The Afghan security forces have now completely withdrawn from several provinces, leaving behind large amounts of military equipment now taken over by the Taliban.
In some places, government soldiers have fled, in other places they have surrendered. In several of the provincial capitals now besieged by rebels, government forces have barricaded themselves in military camps.
Some warlords, who have militias with several hundred soldiers, have also switched sides and joined the Taliban. Other warlords and militias fight on the side of government forces.
Now the last of the Norwegian soldiers are coming home from the war that cost us more than ten billion. At the same time, the Taliban are steadily gaining ground.
Afghan and US warplanes have attempted to defend provincial capitals, and aerial bombardments of densely populated areas have claimed an unknown number of civilian casualties.
The advance of the Taliban and government airstrikes since May have forced at least 244,000 Afghans to flee their homes, according to the United Nations Emergency Relief Agency (OCHA). Several thousand have sought refuge in Kabul, where they have settled in parks.
In a statement, the Taliban assured its residents, government officials and members of the Afghan security forces that they have nothing to fear.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is not reassuring and fears that war crimes will be committed.
The Taliban must suspend their military operations in cities, Michelle Bachelet demands in a statement.
– If not all parties return to the negotiating table and reach a peace solution, the already dire situation for many Afghans will be even worse, he believes.
The UN has received reports that war crimes are being committed, not only by the Taliban, but also by pro-government militias. Afghan and American planes have also been bombed from the air.
– We know that war in densely populated areas causes the death of many civilians. We’ve seen this too many times before, Bachelet cautions.
The United States wants to pressure the Taliban
The United States hopes to be able to “pressure” the Taliban to halt the advance when President Joe Biden’s envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, meets with rebel envoys from Doha in the coming days, according to the US Foreign Ministry. United.
“The increasing pace of the Taliban military offensive, which has resulted in the loss of civilian lives due to clashes between the parties and allegations of crimes against humanity, is very worrying,” the statement said.
– A negotiated peace is the only solution to this war, it is further stated.
Khalilzad, who was born in Afghanistan, arrived in Doha on Tuesday, but it is unclear when the meetings will take place.
Call for a halt in forced return
So far, the outside world has been able to do little to stop the Taliban’s advance, but on Tuesday the ambassadors of EU countries in Kabul called on their home governments to temporarily halt the forced return of Afghans whose asylum claims were rejected.
In a joint statement, the ambassadors refer to the “difficult security and human rights situation and the lack of safe areas in the country.”
The Afghan authorities recently called on the EU and other European countries to halt these forced returns for three months starting in July.