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65% of Afghanistan is controlled by the Taliban, says an EU official

Seven provincial capitals of Afghanistan have fallen to the Taliban in about a week.

Updated: August 10, 2021 - 11:03pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The Taliban has taken control of 65 percent of Afghanistan, according to reports. The update comes as President Joe Biden withdraws the last U.S. troops, and encourages Afghan leaders to fight for their country.

According to a senior European Union official on Tuesday, the Taliban are threatening to take control of 11 provincial capitals as they have taken over most of the country, Reuters reported.

Pul-e-Khumri, the capital of Baghlan, a northern province, was the seventh provincial capital in about a week to fall under Taliban control on Tuesday.

"Afghan leaders have to come together," Biden said at the White House, adding that the Taliban is outnumbered by Afghan troops. "They've got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation."

Biden said that the U.S. is providing equipment, food, air support, and salaries to the Afghan forces, and that he does not regret withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan.

The U.S. has carried out some air strikes in support of Afghan forces, and while Department of Defense spokesman John Kirby said that they have had a "kinetic" effect on the militants, it was limited.

"Nobody has suggested here that air strikes are a panacea that will solve all the problems of the conditions on the ground. We've never said that," Kirby said.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who is in the country's capital of Kabul, is seeking assistance from regional militias that he has had rocky relations with for years. He also urged civilians to defend the nation's "democratic fabric."

Northern Afghanistan had been the most peaceful region in the country for years, as there were minimal Taliban forces present. But now, the Taliban is appearing to take the northern border crossing, south and west, as it closes in on the capital of Kabul, according to Reuters.

The Afghan forces are focusing on maintaining control of population centers as they withdraw from rural areas that are more difficult to defend.

Government officials have requested pressure to be placed on Pakistan to cease Taliban reinforcements and supplies from crossing the border, but the country denies backing the militant forces.

The U.S. and U.K. have recommended their citizens leave Afghanistan while India is bringing its citizens home by a flight sent to the northern region.