Taliban says it controls most of Afghanistan

The Taliban said on Friday (July 9) it had seized control of 85% of Afghanistan, with fighters tightening their grip on strategic areas.

Intensifying international concerns over problems getting medicines and supplies into the country.

Government officials dismissed the assertion by the Sunni Muslim insurgent group as being part of a propaganda campaign it has launched

as foreign forces, including the United States, withdraw.

Local Afghan officials said Taliban fighters, emboldened by the troop withdrawal, had captured an important district in Herat province, home to tens of thousands of minority Shi'ite Hazaras.

Torghundi, a northern town on the border with Turkmenistan, was also captured by the Taliban overnight, Afghan and Taliban officials said.

Russia's foreign ministry said the militant group controlled at least two thirds of Afghan territory.

A Taliban delegation is in Moscow, seeking to address its fears that radical Islamists could infiltrate Central Asia...

as hundreds of Afghan security personnel and refugees flee across the border into Iran and Tajikistan.

Three Taliban officials sought to reassure Russia at a news conference,

saying the group wanted to prevent Islamic State from being active in Afghanistan and would not allow Afghan territory to be used to attack its neighbors.

As fighting continued, the WHO's regional emergencies director, Rick Brennan, said at least 18.4 million people require humanitarian assistance, including 3.1 million children at risk of acute malnutrition.

"I think the concerns are, as was mentioned, the departure of health care workers fearing for the security of their families and themselves. As I said, we're already beginning to see the return of some of them. We are concerned about our lack of access to be able to provide essential medicines and supplies and we are concerned about attacks on health care.”

Brennan said the Taliban had asked informally for support keeping health services going in the areas it had seized.

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