US general vows airstrikes to support Afghan troops amid Taliban offensive

WION Web Team
Kabul Published: Jul 26, 2021, 08:55 PM(IST)

File photo Photograph:( Reuters )

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US President Joe Biden had announced all US troops will out of Afghanistan by August 31 even as the Taliban has captured strategic border areas along Pakistan, Tajikistan and Iran.

Amid escalation in Taliban's offensive in Afghanistan, US Marine General Kenneth McKenzie has said that the "United States is prepared to continue this heightened level of support in the coming weeks if the Taliban continue their attacks".

McKenzie asserted that the US has increased airstrikes in support of Afghan forces over the last several days.

President Biden had announced US troops will pull out of Afghanistan by August 31 even as the Taliban renewed its offensive in the past month seizing areas in border regions including in the west and north.

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"The government of Afghanistan faces a stern test in the days ahead. The Taliban are attempting to create a sense of inevitability about their campaign," McKenzie said.

The Taliban has increasingly targeted provincial capitals and rural districts in the country including border checkpoints along Tajikistan, Pakistan and Iran.

"They are going to have to deal with the cities if they want to try and claw their way back into power," he said. "I don't think it's a foregone conclusion that they are going to be able to capture these urban areas," US General McKenzie said.

However, it is unclear whether the US will continue airstrikes beyond August 31 when the last US troops leave the country.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's army said at least forty-six Afghan soldiers sought refuge in the country after losing control over their positions along the border.

Afghan troops reportedly sought refuge in crossing in Chitral in the north as they were given safe passage into Pakistan. 

Reports say fighting continues on the outskirts of Kandahar which is the second-largest city in Afghanistan after Kabul even as the US carried out airstrikes.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid had confirmed airstrikes had taken place in Kandahar killing three Afghan fighters. Mujahid however criticised the strikes as a "violation of the Doha deal" warning there would be "consequences". 

Reports said Afghan migrants were crossing over to Turkey from Iran as the Taliban continues its surge across the country.

According to the UN's refugee agency, at least 270,000 Afghans have been displaced since the beginning of the year.

(With inputs from Agencies)

 

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