The Taliban told Russian media on Friday that it now controls approximately 90% of Afghanistan's border with neighboring countries as its fight for control against US-trained Afghan national forces continues.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid made the claim to Sputnik, saying "The borders of Afghanistan with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran — about 90% of the borders are under our control … The border with Turkmenistan and the border with Iran are completely under our control. The borders of Pakistan (with the exception of a few small sections) are also under our control."
There's at least some degree of confirmation that the sweeping claim is partially true, given recent videos to come out of the Pakistani border region alongside Reuters reporting that some major crossings have been seized by the Islamist group.
Earlier this month an alarmed Tajikistan government called up 20,000 reserve forces to protect the border from the advancing Taliban, and this week US Joint Chiefs chairman Gen. Mark Milley admitted the Taliban now has "strategic momentum" as the Pentagon enters its final days of the total troop draw down before Biden's August 31 "complete" departure deadline.
The top general estimated the Taliban now controls 50% of the geographic country, though this doesn't necessarily represent the dense population centers. The Taliban in contrast has said this month it possesses 85% of territory.
The Daily Mail summarizes of Milley's Wednesday comments at the Pentagon:
Milley said the Taliban now held 212 or 213 of the country's 419 district centers - last month the number was 81.
'A significant amount of territory has been seized over the course of six, eight, 10 months by the Taliban, so momentum appears to be - strategic momentum appears to be - with the Taliban,' he said.
He added that the Taliban strategy appeared to be to isolate population centers, such as Kabul.
So the Taliban strategy is likely to keep methodically advancing around major urban centers, waiting for the moment to strike big cities like Kabul after the final and full American troop departure.
1.Following from work for @ODI_Global @L4P_Afghanistan I’ve been looking at recent discussions of the Taliban capturing districts-but not taking cities, so far- & thinking that some don’t fully understand the strategic & financial significance of territorial control. A thread: pic.twitter.com/YbBpZLClHG— David Mansfield (@mansfieldintinc) July 14, 2021
The US is however keeping a large security force of 650 or more to protect its sprawling embassy complex in Kabul, but it's still being debated the degree to which the US would respond in a 'counter-terror' capacity once the official mission and occupation is deemed over (ultimately Biden's symbolic final deadline is Sept.11).