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Taliban now control 'over half of Afghanistan'

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The United Nations has warned that reports of violation and civilian casualties in Afghanistan by Taliban fighters may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The stark warning comes as the Taliban tighten their grip on captured territory in the country, now controlling 65% of it, a European Union official said on Tuesday (August 10).

President Ashraf Ghani has called on regional strongmen to support his government following a stunning string of Taliban gains after U.S.-led foreign forces pulled out.

U.N. human rights office spokeswoman, Ravina Shamdasani, warned of the worsening situation.

"Civilian casualties are continuing to mount and reports of violations that may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity continued to emerge. We all know that urban warfare results in scores of civilians being killed. We have seen it before, too many times. In Afghanistan, since the 9th of July in four cities alone, and these are Lashkar Gah, Kandahar, Herat and Kunduz, at least 183 civilians have been killed and 1,181 have been injured, including children."

Taliban and government officials have confirmed that the Islamist group has overrun six provincial capitals in recent days.

The European Union official said on Tuesday (August 10) about 400,000 Afghans have been internally displaced in recent months and there has been an increase in numbers attempting to flee.

Shamdasani said those who remain are terrified.

"The people of Afghanistan are speaking of their deep fears of a return to the worst of the human rights violations of the past. Women, minorities, human rights defenders, journalists as well as others who are particularly vulnerable need particular protection. There are very real risks of renewed atrocities against ethnic and religious minorities."

The United States will complete the withdrawal of its forces at the end of this month, under a deal agreed with the Taliban.

In return the Taliban has promised not the attack foreign forces as they withdraw but has not agreed a ceasefire with government forces.

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