KABUL: The U.S. is mindful of Taliban advances in Afghanistan, said Pentagon press secretary John F. Kirby in a Washington press conference, as the Taliban militants have intensified their fighting against Afghan National Defense Forces.
Commenting on the ongoing conflict, Mr. Kirby said that he and the Pentagon secretary were “Still working —- working through this.”
According to him, the US already does possess over-the-horizon counterterrorism capabilities, “And it’s fairly robust, even. I mean, we’ve got a sizable footprint in the Middle East and facilities ashore that we can utilize with fixed-wing air — air assets, both manned and unmanned, in the region.”
He stated that the US does not see the same level of terroristic threats from Afghanistan as it did 20 years ago, saying, “That’s a big reason why, in fact, the president ordered the drawdown. I mean, we had accomplished the mission of — of not getting attacked from Afghanistan here on the homeland over the last 20 years.”
Implying that he did not have an up-to-date operational assessment of the Taliban activities on the ground, “we believe that they mean to threaten provincial centers as well. But I don’t want to — I just don’t think it’ll be useful for me to get into a tick-tock of — of everything they’ve been doing on the ground,” said Kirby.
While insisting on a non-military approach, “We are mindful of the security situation. We are mindful of the Taliban’s advances. And — and that’s why it is so important for us to continue to press for a negotiated political settlement to this war,” he said.
This is amid an unprecedented spike in the Taliban attacks in Afghanistan and an alarming increase in the widespread violence in the country.
The insurgency group now controls one-third of Afghan districts, and the group is threatening numerous provincial capitals.
Backed by the Pakistani state, the group has eyes on the throne of Kabul, refusing to agree to a permanent ceasefire and marching on districts and cities across the country.
The US is set to complete its full withdrawal by September 11 while leaving around 1000 troops behind to help protect the US Embassy and Kabul International Airport.