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Afghan security personnel standing guard after a car bombing in Ghazni in May. Photo: Zakeria Hashimi/AFP via Getty Images

Tajikistan called in 20,000 military reservists on Monday to strengthen the border after 1,037 members of Afghanistan's security forces fled to the country and dozens more were taken captive by the Taliban, per Reuters.

Why it matters: The crossings, which were permitted by Tajikistan, came after the Taliban took over at least six key districts in the northern province of Badakhshan, which borders Tajikistan.

  • Sunday's retreat was the largest confirmed by the Afghan government since the Taliban began its northern offensive, according to Reuters.

What they're saying: Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon received assurances during a phone call with Russian leader Vladimir Putin that Moscow was ready to "provide Tajikistan with the necessary support" to the former Soviet republic at the border, the Kremlin said in a statement, per Russia's Tass news agency.

  • Afghan President Ashraf Ghani spoke with Tajikistan President Emomali Rakhmon on Sunday to discuss the escalating conflict in northern Afghanistan and Rakhmon's concerns with the crossings.

Driving the news: Tajikistan is looking into setting up camps for potential refugees from Afghanistan, according to Reuters.

  • The Taliban seized the main trade gateway into Tajikistan in June. Instead of shutting down the dry port, the insurgent group has started collecting customs revenues on goods moving in and out of Afghanistan, according to the Wall Street Journal.
  • "We informed [Tajikistan and Uzbekistan] and assured them that the routine work of the border, the customs, will be running as before," a Taliban spokesperson told the Journal.

The big picture: The Taliban has rapidly gained territory in Afghanistan since the United States began its military withdrawal, which is expected to be fully completed by Sept. 11.

  • The U.S. military departed Bagram Airfield, which was the center of its war to oust the Taliban and search for the al-Qaeda perpetrators of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, on Friday.
  • U.S. intelligence community has warned that the Afghan government could collapse as soon as next year as the Taliban's battlefield offensive grows.

Go deeper: Biden cuts off questions about Afghanistan amid growing Taliban concerns

Editor's note: This article has been updated with details of the army reservists being called in and of Putin's pledge.

Go deeper

Sep 17, 2021 - World

UN Security Council extends Afghan mission by six months

UN Secretary-General António Guterres attends a press conference on Afghanistan in Geneva on Sept. 13, 2021. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

The United Nations Security Council on Friday authorized a six-month extension of the UN's political mission in Afghanistan.

Why it matters: The move will allow Secretary-General António Guterres to compile the necessary information to determine "strategic and operational recommendations" in light of the Taliban's takeover.

Updated 1 hour ago - Science

Huge wildfire reaches edge of Sequoia National Park

A plume of smoke and flames rise into the air as the fire burns towards Moro Rock during the KNP Complex fire in the Sequoia National Park near Three Rivers, California, on Saturday. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Firefighters in Sequoia National Park were working into the night after two wildfires merged to reach the Giant Forest Saturday.

Why it matters: This forest contains over 2,000 giant sequoias, including the General Sherman Tree — the world's largest tree by volume. Park officials wrapped the redwoods in foil last week as the Paradise and Colony Fires, now known as the KNP Complex Fire, neared. Protection efforts appeared to be working overnight.

2 hours ago - World

Hong Kong holds first "patriots only" elections

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam during a news conference last Monday. Photo: Lui Siu Wai/Xinhua via Getty Images

Hong Kong's elections to choose the city's Election Committee members opened to a select group of voters on Sunday, under a new "patriots only" system imposed by China's government.

Why it matters: All candidates running to be members of the electoral college have been "vetted" by Beijing, per Reuters. They will go on to choose the Asian financial hub's next leader, approved by China's government, and some of its legislature.