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Uzbekistan says 84 Afghan soldiers crossed border to flee Taleban

TASHKENT (AFP) – Uzbekistan said on Sunday (Aug 15) that 84 Afghan soldiers crossed into Uzbekistan on the same day the Taleban seized Afghanistan’s fourth-largest city and said its government had offered humanitarian assistance to Kabul’s troops.

The Central Asian country said border troops had arrested the “violators of the state border” and that the authorities held “talks with the Afghan side” about their return to Afghanistan.

Uzbekistan provided the detained Afghan soldiers with food, temporary accommodation and medical treatment, the Uzbek Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

It also noted “an accumulation of military personnel of the Afghan government forces” on the Afghan side of the bridge at the Termez-Hairatan border crossing.

“Measures are being taken to provide humanitarian assistance to these persons,” the statement said without offering details.

The Taleban on Saturday seized the northern stronghold Mazar-i-Sharif, which is around 100km from Uzbekistan by road.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had visited the city just three days earlier.

With the group’s claim to capture Jalalabad confirmed by residents early on Sunday, Kabul is now the only major city under Afghan government control.

Afghan forces have retreated over the country’s borders with Central Asian states Uzbekistan and Tajikistan on several occasions since the Taleban began a sweeping advance amid the pullout of US forces in May.

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