The U.S. defense secretary says Afghan forces “will play an important role in stopping the Taliban” as the group intensifies attacks.
The current focus of US forces on Afghanistan and its NATO partners is the withdrawal of its troops, scheduled for 9/11, and the priority will be to help Afghan security forces from of “the horizon,” top U.S. military officials said Thursday.
“Afghan security forces will play the leading role in stopping the Taliban and I know that we, what we are seeing unfolding is what we hoped to develop: increased pressure,” the Secretary of Defense said. United States, Lloyd Austin.
Over the past year, there have been about 80 to 100 Taliban attacks on Afghan troops, while none on U.S. forces, he said alongside Austin at a Pentagon briefing. General Mark Milley, President of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The withdrawal of the United States is part of an agreement signed by the administration of former United States President Donald Trump and the Taliban in February 2020, which forced foreign forces to leave Afghanistan in exchange for guarantees of security of the Taliban and that the group would negotiate with the government-elected Afghans.
U.S. officials and the Afghan government have alleged that the Taliban have not maintained their share of the deal. Under the agreement, the withdrawal was to be completed by May 1. Last month, U.S. President Joe Biden abandoned a conditions-based approach to the conflict and ordered the departure of all military forces on September 11, the 20th anniversary of al-Qaeda. attacks on Washington and New York that initiated the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
So far, the U.S. military has closed a base in Helmand province, the equivalent of 60 transport planes have left the country and 1,300 equipment will be destroyed or handed over to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). dir Milley.
On Thursday, Taliban fighters captured a key dam in southern Kandahar province that provides irrigation, energy and drinking water, the latest in a series of group attacks, including an offensive in Helmand province, from 1 May.
U.S. contractors will also withdraw with troops, which could hamper the nascent Afghan Air Force. Milley said he currently conducts 80-90 percent of all air raids in support of the Afghan ground forces. The bulk of the maintenance of their planes and helicopters is done by international contractors and how to continue maintenance without them is “one of the key questions,” Milley said, “which will depend on the conditions and safety conditions of the terrain.”
“The intention is to keep the Afghan Air Force in the air and provide them with ongoing maintenance,” Milley said.
He also said that “terrible predictions” of a Taliban victory or the fall of Kabul “are not a preliminary conclusion.”
Once the withdrawal is complete, the United States will continue to support Afghan forces with funding and logistics based outside the country, Austin said.
“We will continue to be partners in the Afghan government, the Afghan army, and we certainly hope that through our continued support the Afghan security forces can be effective. They have a fairly significant capability, but we will, we hope this is a challenge. “Austin said.