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Taliban have ‘strategic momentum’ in Afghanistan, US top military official admits

THE Taliban appears to have strategic momentum in Afghanistan, the US’s top general admitted on Wednesday as the Islamists continue to gain territory across the country.

General Mark Milley, head of the US joint chiefs of staff, told a press conference that militants had seized control of half of Afghanistan’s roughly 400 districts.

The Taliban claims to be in control of 85 per cent of the country, which both the US and the Afghan government deny.

The US army official said Afghan troops were “consolidating their forces” to protect provincial capitals, with the Islamists said to be circling the country’s most densely populated cities. 

“They’re taking an approach to protect the population, and most of the population lives in the provincial capitals and capital city of Kabul,” Gen Milley said of the Afghan army’s strategy.

“A Taliban automatic military takeover is not a foregone conclusion.”

Talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government took place in Qatar last weekend, but they and several other rounds of negotiations have produced very little.

Taliban spokesman Khairullah Khairkhwa said on Wednesday that all US and Nato forces, except for diplomats, must leave Afghanistan, branding Washington’s war and 20-year occupation a failure.

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