Taliban capture key Afghanistan border crossings

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The Taliban have captured major border crossings with Iran and Turkmenistan in a sweeping offensive across northern Afghanistan, officials say.

The militants say they seized two key border towns – Islam Qala near Iran, and Torghundi bordering Turkmenistan.

Video footage appeared to show Taliban forces taking down the Afghan flag from the roof of a border customs office.

The Taliban are rapidly retaking land across Afghanistan as the US-led mission removes the last of its troops.

Taliban officials say their fighters have taken control of 85% of territory in Afghanistan – a claim impossible to independently verify and disputed by the government.Other estimates have put the amount of territory the Taliban controls at more than a third of the country’s 400 districts, including an arc of land from the Iranian border in the west to the frontier with China on the other side of the country.

The Americans earlier this week quietly departed from Bagram airfield, a sprawling base that was the centre of US operations in Afghanistan and once held tens of thousands of troops.Afghan officials acknowledged the loss of the Islam Qala and Torghundi border crossings, both in Herat province.

The Islam Qala crossing is one of the biggest trade gateways into Iran, generating an estimated $20m (£14m) in monthly revenue for the government. The Torghundi border town is one of two trade gateways into Turkmenistan.

Afghan forces are trying to recapture the two border crossings, a government spokesperson said.

“All Afghan security forces including the border units are present in the area, and efforts are under way to recapture the site,” interior ministry spokesman Tareq Arian told the AFP news agency.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, said the Islam Qala crossing was “under our full control”.

Reports said Taliban fighters had seized five districts in Herat without a fight.

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