The United States recently carried out air strikes as it backed the Afghan army’s bid to repel a Taliban offensive, the Pentagon said Thursday, with the withdrawal of international forces from the country all but complete.
“In the last several days, we have acted through air strikes to support
to the ANDSF,” said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, referring to Afghan
“We continue to… conduct airstrikes in support of the ANDSF,” he
told reporters at a press briefing, adding that head of the US Army Central
Command (Centcom), General Kenneth McKenzie, had authorised the strike.
Kirby said he could not provide details on the air strikes, but reiterated
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s Wednesday statement that the United States
remains “committed to helping the Afghan security forces and the Afghan
government going forward.”
US airpower has long provided Afghan forces with a tactical advantage
against the Taliban — one that many fear will be eroded by the withdrawal of
international troops, though Afghanistan’s own fledgling air force is flying
into the breach.
Also on Wednesday, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General
Mark Milley, acknowledged the Taliban regime now controls about half of
Afghanistan’s roughly 400 districts, but added they had taken none of the
country’s densely populated main cities.
He said the US withdrawal, set to be finished by August 31, is now 95
The resurgent militants have pressed a sweeping offensive against government
forces since May, amid the withdrawal of the American-led foreign forces.
A Taliban spokesman on Thursday told Russian media that the group now controlled 90 percent of Afghanistan’s borders, but the claim could not be independently verified. The militants are known to exaggerate their battlefield claims.