“I can say that over the past few days we have acted through airstrikes to support the ANDSF, but I will not go into the technical details of these strikes,” said the press secretary of the Pentagon John Kirby at a press briefing Thursday.
Three of the last four strikes have targeted captured material, an official said. This includes American equipment transferred to the ANDSF which the Taliban then captured as it advanced across the country.
This latest development is an indication of the success of the Taliban as they sweep the country, pushing back the Afghan army and seizing significant swathes of territory as the United States nears the end of its withdrawal.
The US Central Command, which is in charge of Afghanistan, recently declared that the withdrawal of US forces was over 95% complete. President Joe Biden has said the pullout will be complete by the end of August. About 650 troops are expected to remain in the country to secure the U.S. diplomatic presence in Afghanistan, including the embassy, and to help secure Kabul International Airport, which is a necessary facility for the movement of diplomats.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said on Wednesday that the Taliban held around 212 or 213 of the country’s 419 districts. Although the Taliban did not capture any of the 34 provincial capitals, they had surrounded half of them in an attempt to isolate key population centers, Milley said.
“The strategic momentum seems to be sort of with the Taliban,” Milley said. The Afghan army was consolidating its forces to protect the provincial capitals and Kabul, Milley said. The Eid holiday led to a lull in the fighting, Milley added, but he noted that the situation across the country would become clearer after the holiday.
“There is a possibility of a full Taliban takeover or a possibility of a number of other scenarios, blackout, warlord, all other types of scenarios that exist. We are watching very closely, I don’t think the end of the game is over yet. written, ”he said.
At least some of the first group of 2,500 Afghans who are in the final stages of their SIV applications will be housed at Fort. Lee in Virginia, Kirby said earlier this week. The move could take place as early as next week, sources said.
Miller, who was the longest-serving U.S. commander in the U.S.’s nearly two decades of military engagement in Afghanistan, has repeatedly expressed concern about the pace of the Taliban’s territorial gains and the potential for civil war. in the country after the US military campaign is over.
As he transferred his leadership responsibilities, Miller noted the escalation of violence brought on by the Taliban attacks and stressed that this would not help forge a political agreement with the Afghan government.
“I am one of the officers in the US military who has had the opportunity to speak with the Taliban,” Miller said. “And I told them (…) that it is important for the military to establish the conditions for a peaceful and political settlement in Afghanistan. We can all see the violence taking place across the country. But we know that ‘with this violence, what is very difficult to achieve is a political settlement. “