Biden urges unity as Taliban make advances

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The US president says he does not regret his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan

News Desk

WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden has urged Afghanistan’s leaders to fight for their homeland as the Taliban armed group tightens its grip on the country’s territory.

“Afghan leaders have to come together,” Biden told reporters at the White House on Tuesday, adding the Afghan troops outnumber the Taliban and must want to fight.

 “They have got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation.”

The US president said he does not regret his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, noting that Washington has spent more than $1 trillion over 20 years and lost thousands of soldiers.

He said the US continues to provide significant air support, food, equipment and salaries to Afghan forces.

Meanwhile, the Taliban seized three more provincial capitals in Afghanistan, officials said on Wednesday, putting nine of the nation’s 34 in the armed group’s hands.

The fall of the capitals of Badakhshan and Baghlan provinces to the northeast and Farah province to the west put increasing pressure on the country’s central government to stem the tide of the advance.

The group has captured the provincial capitals Faizabad, Farah, Pul-e-Khumri, Sar-e-Pul, Sheberghan, Aybak, Kunduz, Taluqan and Zaranj.

The Taliban has already gained vast parts of rural Afghanistan since launching a series of offensives in May to coincide with the start of the final withdrawal of foreign forces.

A senior European Union official said on Tuesday that Taliban forces now control more than 65 percent of Afghanistan, threaten to take 11 provincial capitals and seek to deprive Kabul of its traditional support from national forces in the north.