A regional U.S. commander on Sunday said that the U.S. will continue to carry out airstrikes to support Afghan forces against the attacks from the insurgent Taliban.
“The United States has increased airstrikes in support of Afghan forces over the last several days and we’re prepared to continue this heightened level of support in the coming weeks if the Taliban continue their attacks,” U.S. Marine General Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie told a news conference in Kabul.
The Taliban has turned offensive in recent weeks, conquering rural districts and surrounding provincial capitals, after U.S. President Joe Biden said in April U.S. troops would be withdrawn by September, ending a 20-year foreign military presence in Afghanistan.
McKenzie, who leads U.S. Central Command, which controls U.S. forces for a region that includes Afghanistan, declined to say whether U.S. forces would continue airstrikes after the end of their military mission on Aug. 31.
“The government of Afghanistan faces a stern test in the days ahead because The Taliban are attempting to create a sense of inevitability about their campaign as U.S. troops are set to complete the withdrawal process.,” he said.
He also said that “The Taliban victory was not inevitable” and a political solution remained a possibility.
Afghan government and Taliban negotiators have recently met in Qatar’s capital, Doha, although diplomats say that there have been few signs of substantive process since peace talks will begin in September.
McKenzie further said there would likely be a rise in violence after a lull over a Muslim holiday this week and said the Taliban could focus on populated urban centres.
“They are going to have to deal with the cities if they want to try and claw their way back into power” he said. “I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion that they are going to be able to capture these urban areas.”
He rejected the narrative of a possible civil war in the war-hit country. He confirmed the U.S. had conducted airstrikes in Kandahar. (The Kashmiriyat)