In a bizarre turn of events, Taliban has claimed that it has taken control of vast swathes of Afghanistan following the exit of the United States troops after a 20-year military operation.
Taliban officials said on Friday that they now control 85 percent of the of territory in Afghanistan.
However, Afghan government have dismissed the claim of the Sunni Muslim insurgent group.
A Taliban leader, Shahabuddin Delawar, made the public claim saying, "you and the entire world community have probably recently learned that 85% of the territory of Afghanistan has come under the control" [of the Taliban], Reuters reported.
However, he also asserted that the group will not let the Islamic State take a foothold in the country. "We will take all measures so that Islamic State will not operate on Afghan territory... and our territory will never be used against our neighbours," he said.
Key District in Herat
Meanwhile, local Afghan officials said Taliban fighters have captured a key district in Herat province, where a significant number of minority Shi'ite Hazaras live. Another town captured by Taliban is Torghundi, a northern town on the border with Turkmenistan.
Despite the Taliban claiming major territory gain, the Pentagon did not make any comment. "Claiming territory or claiming ground doesn't mean you can sustain that or keep it over time ... And so I think it's really time for the Afghan forces to get into the field - and they are in the field - and to defend their country, their people ... They've got the capacity, they've got the capability. Now it's time to have that will," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.
Even as Afghanistan is teetering on the edge of collapse, President Joe Biden said the Afghan people must now decide their own future and justified his decision to permanently pull the troops from country after the 20-year war.
Biden underscored the Afghan military's ability to defeat the Taliban and rubbished media reports that said the US intelligence had predicted that the Afghan government could collapse in the aftermath of the US troops withdrawal.
"We achieved those objectives, that's why we went. We did not go to Afghanistan to nation build. And it's the right and the responsibility of the Afghan people alone to decide their future and how they want to run their country," Biden said at the White House on Thursday.
He said he will not commit 'another generation of American soldiers' to Afghanistan. "How many thousands more Americans, daughters and sons, were you willing to risk? How long would you have them stay?"
"I will not send another generation of Americans to war in Afghanistan with no reasonable expectation of achieving a different outcome," Biden said, according to Reuters.