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Taliban Fighters Return To Central Asia's Borders | RFERL - June 25, 2021 |

The defeat on June 22 of Afghan government forces at the town of Shir Khan Bandar, with its vital border crossing into Tajikistan, seems to have been as much of a shock to Central Asian authorities as it was to the 134 Afghan soldiers who escaped the Taliban assault by fleeing into Tajikistan.

Adding to the alarm, Uzbekistan's Foreign Ministry has confirmed that 53 armed Afghan troops and allied militia fighters also fled into Uzbekistan on June 23.

Tashkent says that after questioning those soldiers and militia fighters, Uzbek authorities sent them back.

Uptick In Fighting

Eight Afghan provinces border former Soviet republics in Central Asia. From west to east, they are Herat, Badghis, Faryab, Jowzjan, Balkh, Kunduz, Takhar, and Badakhshan.

Those provinces were relatively peaceful for most of the decade after U.S. troops first arrived in Afghanistan in late 2001. There was little cause for concern in neighboring Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.

But Afghan security forces have become increasingly involved in fighting the Taliban and other militants since 2013. At times, some battles have taken place just across the border from Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. Stray rounds of artillery and gunfire have even occasionally landed in their territory.

RFE/RL's Turkmen Service, known locally as Azatlyk, reported on June 25 that the Afghan town of Andkhoy in Faryab Province had fallen to the Taliban the previous day.

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Sun Jul 4th, 2021 at 11:21:17 PM EST
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Tajikistan's national security committee said 1,037 Afghan government troops had fled into the ex-Soviet country "in order to save their lives" after clashes with the Taliban during the night.

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'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Mon Jul 5th, 2021 at 12:14:06 PM EST
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