Afghanistan welcomes continued US air support in fight against Taliban
Kabul, Jul 26 (EFE).- Afghanistan on Monday said it welcomed continued US air strikes in the fight against the Taliban, saying it was effective in the pushback against the extremist group’s sweeping gains across the nation.
Spokesman for the Afghan Armed Forces Ajmal Omar Shinwari told a press conference in Kabul the “fight against terrorism” was the responsibility of the “entire international community” and not just Afghanistan.
Late Sunday, General Kenneth McKenzie of the US Central Command said that the US would continue to provide air strikes in defense of Afghan forces under Taliban attack.
“The United States has increased air strikes in the support of Afghan forces over the last several days, and we’re prepared to continue this heightened level of support in the coming weeks if the Taliban continue their attacks,” McKenzie said.
Most of these strikes were carried out in support of Afghan forces in southern Kandahar province, where fighting has been underway between Afghan forces and the Taliban for the past several weeks.
McKenzie was in Kabul to meet with President Ashraf Ghani and Afghan security leaders following a sharp rise in Taliban attacks throughout the country in recent months, during which the Taliban have captured around 125 district centers, the first such rapid territorial gain for them in the past two decades of fighting.
The Afghan government is now working on a six-month security plan to slow down Taliban advances and to gradually go from a defensive to an offensive posture to recapture the lost territory.
“I am here for consultations on their (government’s) security plan for the defense of Afghanistan, and to reassure them of the United States support to their security efforts. They have a good plan. A plan that will concentrate their forces. And it’s going to require taking a risk to execute as any good plan does,” McKenzie said.
“The Taliban are attempting to create a sense of inevitability about their campaign. They’re wrong. There’s no preordained conclusion to this fight. Taliban victory is not inevitable,” he said.
The Afghan Armed Forces spokesman said that in the past week, at least 1,528 Taliban fighters were killed and 801 were injured in fighting in 25 of the 34 provinces.
The United Nations on Monday announced that 1,659 civilians had been killed and 3,254 injured in the ongoing conflict in the first six months of 2021, showing a 47% increase compared with the same period in 2020.
The increase was mainly due to the increased armed violence by parties of war following the withdrawal of the US and NATO forces on May 1 from Afghanistan.
The number of civilian casualties during May and June – 2,392 in total (783 killed and 1,609 injured) – was the highest for those months since UNAMA began its systematic documentation in 2009.EFE