US launches air strikes against Taliban in support of Afghan forces

By Salaam Times and AFP


A US Navy fighter jet is seen over Afghanistan on January 23, 2020. [Coalition Forces]

WASHINGTON -- The United States has carried out a series of air strikes as it backed the Afghan army's bid to repel a Taliban offensive, the Pentagon said Thursday (July 22).

The Taliban operations come as the withdrawal of international forces from the country is almost completed.

"In the last several days, we have acted through air strikes to support the ANDSF," said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, referring to the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces.

"We continue to... conduct air strikes in support of the ANDSF," he told reporters at a press briefing, adding that US Army Central Command commander Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie had authorised the strikes.

Kirby said he could not provide details on the air strikes but reiterated US 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.

Following Kirby's comments, another defence official speaking on condition of anonymity said that on Wednesday and Thursday, the United States conducted more than four air strikes in support of Afghan forces, according to media reports.

At least two of the strikes targeted military equipment that the Taliban had seized from Afghan forces, the official said.

Also on Wednesday, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, said the US withdrawal, set to be finished by August 31, is now 95% complete.

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If the Afghan Defense and Security Forces are not funded or equipped, and most important, not given essential incentive by America and international friends, the people of Afghanistan will not have confidence in these forces for ensuring the security and stability, and protecting the values and the democratic system.