The Taliban offensive started in early May as the US and NATO began the final troop withdrawal following a 20-year occupation.

In this file photo taken on May 5, 2021, Afghan security forces stand near an armoured vehicle during ongoing fighting between Afghan security forces and Taliban fighters in the Busharan area on the outskirts of Lashkar Gah, the capital city of Helmand province.
In this file photo taken on May 5, 2021, Afghan security forces stand near an armoured vehicle during ongoing fighting between Afghan security forces and Taliban fighters in the Busharan area on the outskirts of Lashkar Gah, the capital city of Helmand province. (AFP)

Central European leaders have voiced concern over a potential migration rush from Afghanistan as US and NATO forces pull out from the country. 

They've complained that a small group of powerful countries within the European Union continue to call the shots without input from smaller or less wealthy member states.

Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki Morawiecki on Friday said a NATO troop withdrawal from Afghanistan could trigger a migration influx into Europe, on top of a steady stream of migrant arrivals from Africa.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis took it a step further to suggest that a “migration wave” from Afghanistan constitutes a “big threat".

“For that reason, we must be capable of protecting our external borders,” Morawiecki said.

The Taliban militant group say they've made sweeping advances across Afghanistan, and claim to be in control of 85 percent of the country.

Their latest offensive started in early May as the US and NATO began the final troop withdrawal following a 20-year occupation sparked by the September 11 attacks.

READ MORE: Kabul scrambles as Taliban seizes Turkmenistan, Iran border crossings

The prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia - all EU and NATO members - gathered in Slovenia on Friday, just days after the Alpine Nations took over the EU’s rotating presidency.

The countries make up the so-called Visegrad Group, an informal body that aims at closer regional cooperation.

'Forced to retreat'

Afghan soldiers have described carrying their wounded comrades across the border to Tajikistan after being abandoned by their commanders when the Taliban seized a key border crossing.

The soldiers, part of a group of more than 1,000 who fled to Tajikistan when the insurgents took Shir Khan Bandar at the end of June, spoke to media this week after being flown back to Afghanistan.

The Taliban and government were supposed to have agreed a political roadmap for the country at peace talks in Doha, but they have largely fizzled out after months of deadlock, and the insurgents appear now to have their sights set on a military victory.

The Taliban advances have raised fears Afghan security forces may swiftly become demoralised without the vital air support provided by the Americans, and collapse.

Mehrullah, who like many Afghans uses only one name, was part of a battalion of around 1,000 soldiers defending the border crossing with Tajikistan near Kunduz city, in the far north.

"We were under siege in Shir Khan Bandar for a week. Our supply route was cut off," said the 27-year-old, who spoke of confusion and a lack of communication between units on the ground.

As the fighting intensified, Mehrullah said some commanders abandoned their positions, leaving the foot soldiers little choice but to follow them.

"If there was proper coordination between the centre and the leadership of the port forces we would have fought the Taliban instead of retreating," he said.

"We did not leave the port, but the commanders fled before the soldiers."

READ MORE: Powerful warlord blames demoralised troops, quick US exit for Taliban gains

Ainuddin, another soldier, told how wounded troops were carried into Tajikistan by their comrades as the Taliban tightened their noose around the border crossing.

Tajikistan authorities said that 1,037 Afghan government troops had crossed into the former-Soviet country, and they had offered them sanctuary and treated their wounds in order to "save their lives".

"After the siege of the port and a big Taliban attack, they cut off all roads to Kunduz," Ainuddin said.

"We were forced to retreat to the bridge and, after an hour of fighting, we crossed into Tajikistan."

Afghan officials acknowledge supply lines are stretched and that they have lost territory to the Taliban, but say they are losing battles, not the war.

"There is war, there is pressure. Sometimes things are working our way. Sometimes they don't," said National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib.

READ MORE: Tajikistan seeks help from Russian-led bloc as Taliban scales up fighting

Source: AFP