United Nations (UN) Secretary General António Guterres called for the Taliban to stop its military march through Afghanistan when speaking to reporters Friday.
“Even for a country that has tragically known generations of conflict, Afghanistan is in the throes of yet another chaotic and desperate chapter – an incredible tragedy for its long-suffering people,” Guterres said of the rapidly unraveling situation in the country. The UN reported that more than 1,000 civilians have been killed or injured during the ongoing Taliban offensive so far.
— UN Spokesperson (@UN_Spokesperson) August 13, 2021
At least 241,000 people have already been displaced by the fighting between the Islamist militant group and Afghan forces, Guterres said. “Hospitals are overflowing. Food and medical supplies are dwindling. Roads, bridges, schools, clinics and other critical infrastructure are being destroyed.”
“Continued urban conflict will mean continued carnage,” he added. “I call on all parties to take heed of the conflict’s heavy toll and its devastating impact on civilians. They all must do more to protect civilians.”
Guterres’ call echoes similar pleas by the United States for the Taliban to pursue a peaceful resolution rather than take over the country by force. This week, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, met with regional leaders in Doha, Qatar, and stressed the importance of isolating the Taliban regime from international recognition if it takes control of Afghanistan militarily.
Thursday morning, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, tweeted that it was hearing “deeply disturbing” reports of Taliban executions that could constitute war crimes. The Taliban took three more major cities Friday as it continues its rapid advancement through the country that has accelerated as American troops complete a withdrawal ordered by President Joe Biden. (RELATED: Afghanistan President Blames US Troop Withdrawal For Worsening Security Amid Taliban Gains)
Biden previously endorsed the competence of the Afghan military and assured Americans that it would be able to hold off the Taliban, but Afghan troops have been abandoning their posts by the thousands, some even fleeing the country entirely. The White House has been working to evacuate some Afghan operators who aided the United States during its time in the country, but efforts have been slow against the oncoming assault of Taliban militants who are threatening to kill collaborators who helped the Americans.
Thursday, Washington deployed some additional troops to the country in order to evacuate the embassy in Kabul.