Afghanistan: US General McKenzie promises to continue air strikes in support of Afghan troops fighting the Taliban

Violence has increased across the country in recent months after the Taliban launched a full-scale assault just days after US-led foreign forces began their final withdrawal.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday in Kabul, General Kenneth McKenzie, head of the United States Central Command, said: “The United States has stepped up airstrikes in support of Afghan forces over the past few days, and we are ready to continue this increased level of support in the weeks to come if the Taliban continue their attacks. ”

McKenzie acknowledged that the Afghan government will face difficult days.

“The Taliban are trying to create a sense of inevitability in their campaign. They are wrong,” he said. “The Taliban’s victory is not inevitable,” he said, adding that the US military will continue to provide logistical support to the Afghan air force even after its foreign forces are expected to leave the country. August 31.

“We will continue to support the Afghan forces even after this date of August 31, it will generally be beyond the horizon,” McKenzie said.

The US military carried out two strikes on Taliban targets on Thursday in support of Afghan forces in Kandahar province, several defense officials said. Three of the last four strikes by the United States have targeted captured equipment, a defense official said. This included American equipment transferred to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces which the Taliban then captured as they advanced across the country.

The airstrikes come amid an increased push by the Taliban to seize the territory and a parallel attempt to revive diplomatic measures for a negotiated end to the war. A Taliban spokesman on Friday condemned the US airstrikes in Kandahar and Helmand provinces as “barbaric attacks” which “will have consequences”. The spokesperson said: “The Islamic Emirate condemns these barbaric attacks in the strongest terms.”

McKenzie on Sunday pledged to support the Afghan Air Force in the future, and said the U.S. Air Force would also retain the ability to “strike in Afghanistan” against two other groups, ISIS and al-Qaeda.

McKenzie said it would be clear in the “coming days and weeks” whether the Afghan government will be able to defend the country from the Taliban.

He added: “I don’t think it will be an easy path… [but] I do not accept the narrative that there is going to be a civil war out of necessity. ”

On Sunday, fighting continued on the outskirts of Kandahar. AFP reports that McKenzie admitted that the US Air Force had carried out airstrikes in the province in recent days. Kandahar, with 650,000 inhabitants, is the second largest city in Afghanistan after Kabul.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misidentified General Kenneth McKenzie’s title. He is the head of the American central command.

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