Taliban fighters have encircled 17 provincial capitals, outcome of Afghanistan peace talks uncertain, Mark Milley says.

Taliban fighters have gained “strategic momentum” in Afghanistan and now control about half the countryside as they drive to cut off population centres from the Western-backed government in Kabul, the United States’s top military general said.

“This is going to be a test now, of the will and leadership of the Afghan people, the Afghan security forces and the government of Afghanistan,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley told reporters at the Pentagon on Wednesday.

The Taliban have gained control of about half of 419 districts in Afghanistan and are “putting pressure on the outskirts” of 17 of 34 provincial capitals but have not seized control of any of

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