General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says more than 200 of Afghanistan's 419 district centres are under Taliban control, up from district centers under the insurgents' control last month.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin brief reporters at the Pentagon as the US military nears the formal end of its mission in Afghanistan in Arlington, Virginia, US July 21, 2021.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin brief reporters at the Pentagon as the US military nears the formal end of its mission in Afghanistan in Arlington, Virginia, US July 21, 2021. (Reuters)

Taliban insurgents control about half of Afghanistan's district centres and appear to have 'strategic momentum', the top US general has said, indicating a rapidly deteriorating security situation.

"Strategic momentum appears to be sort of with the Taliban," General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters on Wednesday.

Milley said more than 200 of the 419 district centres were under Taliban control. Last month, he had said the Taliban controlled 81 district centers in Afghanistan.

Insecurity has been growing in Afghanistan in recent weeks, largely spurred by fighting in its provinces as US-led foreign troops complete their withdrawal and the Taliban launch major offensives, taking districts and border crossings.

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

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.

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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 August 31 as he looks to disengage from a conflict that began after al Qaeda's attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001.

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

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies