KABUL: U.S. airstrikes are on an upward trend as the Taliban stage attacks across Afghanistan, a U.S. watchdog report has found, against the backdrop of continuing peace talks and the drawdown of American forces in the region.
In its quarterly report to Congress published on Feb. 1, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said American strikes in the country had increased for a second consecutive quarter, even though U.S. aircrafts were no longer supposed to be performing offensive strikes.
Under the February 2020 deal with the Taliban, American aircraft would not seek out the Taliban for strikes and only protect partner forces.
On the other hand, SIGAR notes that Taliban violence has primarily centered on attacks in Kabul city, including targeted assassinations and stepped-up efforts to threaten government forces in Helmand and Kandahar’s provinces.
This comes as the U.S. declined its troops in mid-January to around 2,500, the lowest number since 2001.