Taliban Militants Attack UN Office in Afghanistan’s Herat Amid Clashes, Gov’t Says
14:14 GMT 31.07.2021 (Updated: 18:47 GMT 31.07.2021)
© REUTERS / STRINGERPeople on vehicles, holding Taliban flags, gather near the Friendship Gate crossing point in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border town of Chaman, Pakistan July 14, 2021
© REUTERS / STRINGER
This comes a day after the terrorist group launched a similar attack in the country's third-largest city. No UN personnel was hurt; however, Taliban* militants killed one police officer and injured several others during the assault.
Taliban militants have attacked the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, Fawad Aman, spokesperson for Afghan Defence Ministry, wrote in a statement on Twitter. He said the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) are now fighting against militants, with more and more Afghan forces going to Herat, where the UN’s main compound is located.
No information on casualties has been reported so far.
Violence has continued unabated in Afghanistan for several weeks, with the Taliban launching an offensive on entire cities. Reports say the militant group now controls more territory than they did in 2001, when it was toppled during the US-led invasion. According to TOLOnews, which cited government sources, the Taliban now controls all but one districts in the province of Herat.
Experts say the group has been emboldened by the withdrawal of American and NATO troops. The departure is in accordance with the peace deal the US and the Taliban signed in February 2020.
Brutal Civil War
In April, US President Joe Biden announced plans to begin the final withdrawal of American forces, effectively the ending US’ longest war. Biden’s statement was overshadowed by one made by General Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie, head of the United States Central Command, who said that he had grave doubts about the Taliban’s reliability.
Biden’s announcement was met with scepticism from experts, who warned that the situation may quickly spiral out of control in Afghanistan after US and NATO forces leave the country. In reality, the situation in Afghanistan began to deteriorate drastically even before the last US soldier left the Central Asian nation.
Earlier this month retired Army General David Petraeus, who commanded NATO forces in Afghanistan, said the White House will regret its decision to withdraw from the country.
"What I see now sadly is the onset of what is going to be quite a brutal civil war, considerable ethnic and sectarian displacement, assassination of government officials, millions of refugees flooding into other countries, particularly Pakistan. We will see the return of al-Qaeda* and Islamic State*, though I don’t seen an immediate domestic security threat for the US in that regard", he said speaking to CNN.
His statement was echoed in a recent report by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko, who argued that the Taliban’s success in seizing territories from government forces could create an “existential crisis” in the country.
The White House “responded” with airstrikes on Taliban positions in a bid to slow the group’s advances. Reports say the militants now control 212 of Afghanistan's 426 districts, with 15 million people now living under their rule.
The United States said it would provide Afghan forces with air support after it completes its withdrawal, but it is not clear how effective it will be, given the fact that after the pull-out, US planes will have to fly from bases in the Persian Gulf.
*al-Qaeda, Islamic State and Taliban are terrorist groups banned in Russia and many other countries