Taliban Warns Of Retaliation As US Is Continuing Airstrikes In Afghanistan
The US launched several airstrikes in Afghanistan against the Taliban this week, the Pentagon said on Thursday. The airstrikes were carried out in support of the Afghan government, which has been losing significant ground to the Taliban since the US started pulling troops out back in May.
“In the last several days we have acted, through airstrikes, to support the ANDSF [Afghan National Defense and Security Forces],” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters. He was asked about alleged airstrikes in Kandahar, but said, “I won’t get into technical details of those strikes.”
Since the US-Taliban peace deal was signed in February 2020, US airstrikes on the Taliban have declined, but they do happen. The US usually frames the airstrikes as being carried out in the “defense” of the Afghan government. For their part, the Taliban has refrained from attacking the US or other foreign troops since the agreement was signed.
This week’s airstrikes mark the first that the US admitted to since Gen. Scott Miller, the former top US commander in Afghanistan, handed his authority to Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of US Central Command. It’s also a sign that the US will continue bombing Afghanistan until at least August 31st, when President Biden said the withdrawal will be complete.
US airstrikes in Afghanistan are now being launched from outside the country, what the Pentagon has dubbed “over the horizon capability.” The US will maintain this capability after the withdrawal, so it’s possible that the US will continue bombing Afghanistan beyond September.
Taliban warns the US that airstrikes in Kandahar and Helmand provinces will have consequences, calling it violation of Doha agreement. Earlier, US troops announced that they conducted airstrikes against Taliban in Qandahar.
— Tajuden Soroush (@TajudenSoroush) July 23, 2021
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid condemned the new airstrikes as a violation of prior Doha agreements, vowing “consequences” after multiple Taliban fighters killed:
“We confirm these air strikes and we condemn this in strongest term, it is a clear attack and violation of the Doha deal as they can’t have operations after May,” he said, referring to an agreement between the United States and the Taliban clearing the way for the withdrawal of U.S. forces.
“If they conduct any operation then they will be responsible for the consequences.”
This evening, I spoke with President Biden over a phone call. We discussed the evolving but continuing relationship between the two countries. President Biden reassured me that support for the ANDSF will continue. We have confidence that they will protect & defend Afghanistan.
— Ashraf Ghani (@ashrafghani) July 23, 2021
The US also has plans to leave about 600 troops in the country that will be in Kabul to guard the embassy and the international airport.
Fri, 07/23/2021 – 23:00