An article by the senior correspondent with RFE/RL Golnaz Esfandiari and the correspondent for RFE/RL’s Tajik Service Mumin Ahmadi notes that some Afghan soldiers feel that fleeing to neighboring Tajikistan was their only chance to survive.

The article entitled Fighting the Taliban Was 'Suicide': Hundreds of Afghan Soldiers Escape to Tajikistan says hundreds of Afghan forces have crossed the border into Tajikistan in search of safety since late June.

Some of them reportedly noted that fighting the Taliban with little support was "suicide."  Therefore, they retreated across the Tajik border.

Local officials in Afghanistan Badakhshan province told RFE/RL’s Afghan Service, known as Radio Azadi, that 26 of the 28 districts in the province have fallen to the Taliban advance.

Tajik officials have said the Taliban now controls 900 kilometers of the 1,357-kilometer border with Tajikistan.

The Taliban movement’s rapid gains amid the near complete pullout of U.S. forces have created major concern in Afghanistan and neighboring countries, which fear an influx of refugees and potential instability.

The Taliban currently has control of more than half of Afghanistan's 398 districts -- most of those falling since U.S. and other international forces began their withdrawal from the war-torn country on May 1.

Massouda Karokhi, a female member of the Afghan parliament, suggested that in some districts in the country servicemen feel that fighting the Taliban does not make sense.

"The soldiers there don't have any support: they don't receive food and are not provided with any facilities so they say 'why should I sit here with nothing and fight the Taliban -- it makes more sense for me to surrender my arms and go,'" Karokhi said in an interview with Noor TV.

Meanwhile, the Taliban are no longer spoken about in Tajik state-run media with complete disdain.  Although the Taliban is still legally recognized as an extremist organization, the State Committee for National Security (SCNS) has quietly dispensed with this descriptor in recent times, opting for the more neutral term “armed group.”

The compliments are mutual.  The Taliban last week reassured Dushanbe that it would respect Tajik sovereignty and that it intended no harm. 

A Taliban delegation on July 8 brought this same message, and more, to Russia. The Taliban political delegation led by Sheikh Shahabuddin Delawar visited Moscow seeking to provide assurances that recent gains across Afghanistan do not pose a threat to Russia or Central Asia’s nations.