A former U.S. military commander said that, amid a surge in attacks by the Taliban before the withdrawal of U.S. and other international troops from Afghanistan
The Taliban have won a chain of victories on the battlefield in recent weeks as U.S.-led foreign forces are on track to complete their pull-out after 20 years in the country.
U.S. President Joe Biden had vowed that all U.S. troops would be out of Afghanistan by September 11 – the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks – but then dragged the deadline at the end of August.
“In recent days, the United States has stepped up airstrikes in favor of Afghan forces and we are ready to continue this higher level of support in the coming weeks if the Taliban continues its attacks,” the general said. of US Marine Kenneth McKenzie during a press conference in the capital Kabul on Sunday.
McKenzie, who heads the U.S. Central Command, declined to say whether U.S. forces will continue airstrikes after the end of their military mission on August 31st.
“The Afghan government is facing a severe test in the coming days … The Taliban are trying to create a sense of inevitability in their campaign,” McKenzie said, adding that a Taliban victory was not the case. not inevitable and that a political solution was always a possibility.
The Taliban have escalated their offensive in recent weeks, taking up rural districts and border crossings, and the surrounding provincial capitals in what the United States Attorney General Mark Milley she said last week it was a test “to isolate the main population centers.”
Milley said the group had taken control of about half of the country’s 419 districts and that it was “putting pressure” on 17 of 34 provincial capitals, but had not taken control of them.
The Afghan government announced Saturday he imposed a night curfew in almost all 34 provinces of the country to curb the growing violence amid the Taliban offensive.
“To curb violence and limit Taliban movements, a nightmare has been imposed in 31 provinces across the country,” except Kabul, Panjshir and Nangarhar, the interior minister said in a statement.
Last week, 15 diplomatic missions and the NATO representative in Kabul together the Taliban to stop military offensives throughout Afghanistan.
“This Eid al-Adha, the Taliban must lay down their arms for good and show the world their commitment to the peace process,” his statement read, referring to the Muslim holiday.
The statement was supported by Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the delegation of the European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Great Britain and the United States. the other civilian representative of NATO.
Meanwhile, the Afghan government and Taliban negotiators have met in Doha, the capital of Qatar, in recent weeks as part of ongoing peace talks, but he did not reach an agreement after two days of negotiations ended last year.
Rival parties said, however, that they were “committed to continuing negotiations at a high level until an agreement is reached” and speeding up the process.
McKenzie’s statements on Sunday came when hundreds of people were killed and tens of thousands displaced in recent fighting, and as Afghans fear the country could fall into civil war.
About 22,000 families were displaced by the fighting last month in the southern city of Kandahar. “All have been transferred from the city’s volatile districts to the safest areas,” Mohammad Daryab, head of the provincial refugee department, told AFP news agency Dost.
On Sunday, lots continued on the outskirts of Kandahar city. Local resident Hafiz Mohammad Akbar said his home had been taken by the Taliban after his escape. “They forced me to leave … Now I live with my family of 20 members in a place without a toilet,” Akbar said.
Others have also expressed concerns that lots could grow in the coming days.
“If they really want to fight, they have to go into a desert and fight, not destroy the city,” Khan Mohammad, who moved into a camp with his family, also told AFP. “Even if they win, they can’t rule a ghost town.”