The United States has launched “half a dozen” airstrikes across Afghanistan over the past 30 days, part of an effort to support Afghan security forces in an effort to keep the Taliban at bay.
A US defense official told the VOA on Thursday that the attacks, most of which were carried out by US drones, targeted “captured Taliban military equipment”. [were] ANDSF. able to seize [Afghan National Defense and Security Forces]”
“There were enemy forces, enemy personnel were targeted”, along with the captured equipment, the officer said on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the information.
For days, Afghan citizens have claimed to have seen US military planes, with some reports suggesting that the US was behind the airstrike in Kandahar, where Taliban forces were advancing.
But so far, US officials have declined to say whether they have supported Afghan ground forces with any assets sent to the region – including long-range bombers and the USS Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group – To help the army withdraw from Afghanistan.
Afghanistan continues to decline as US prepares for Taliban attacks
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“There is no switch that was on. There has been no change in policy,” the official told the VOA, adding that the recent airstrikes were part of Washington’s over-the-horizon strategy.
In support of half a dozen air strikes, officials say, “There is no switch that is turned on. There has been no change in the policy. #Afghan Army in the last one month
Says It’s Part of America’s ‘Over-the-Horizon’ Capabilities – “You’re Seeing It”
— Jeff Seldin (@jseldin) 22 July 2021
Earlier on Thursday, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters that the US had carried out airstrikes to support Afghan forces over the “last several days”, though he declined to share details.
Pentagon officials said earlier this month that the commander of US forces in the region, General Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie of Central Command, retained the right to call for airstrikes in support of Afghan forces until the completion of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Will keep
— Jeff Seldin (@jseldin) 2 July 2021
Military planners have said they expect a withdrawal by August 31 as directed by US President Joe Biden.
Word of a handful of US airstrikes in Afghanistan came a day after the most senior US military official acknowledged that the Taliban had gained “strategic momentum”, with their forces now covering nearly half of Afghanistan’s more than 400 district centers. is controlling.
General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also said Taliban forces were exerting pressure on 17 of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals.
“What they’re trying to do is isolate major population centers,” Milley told reporters on Wednesday. “They are trying to do the same with Kabul, and broadly speaking … a significant amount of territory has been confiscated.”
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Some US lawmakers have expressed concern about what will happen to the Afghan government without a US military presence on the ground, at times pointing to reports that US intelligence agencies have predicted the government will fall in six months.
but in one Interview with National Public Radio On Thursday, Bill Burns, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, acknowledged that while “the trend lines are certainly troubling,” the Afghan government is far from helpless.
“The Afghan government retains significant military capabilities,” Burns said. “The big question, it seems to me and all my colleagues in the CIA and the intelligence community, is whether those capabilities can be used with the kind of political will and leadership unity to oppose the Taliban. absolutely necessary.”
Ayaz Gul contributed to this report.