A US official announced that in the face of the rapid deterioration of security in Afghanistan, the United States will send more troops to the country to help evacuate some staff from the US embassy in Kabul.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity so he could discuss a plan that has yet to be announced, said the soldiers would provide ground and air support to equip and safety Americans who were sent out of the country.
Afghan government forces are collapsing faster than US military leaders thought possible a few months ago, when President Joe Biden ordered the withdrawal of all soldiers in the country.
But there is little appetite in the White House, the Pentagon or among the American public for trying to stop the Taliban offensive, and it may be too late to do so.
Biden has made it clear that he does not intend to change the decision he made earlier in the year, even if the outcome indicated that the Taliban would take over the country.
Now that most US forces have withdrawn and the Taliban are beginning to gain ground, US military leaders have not pressured the president to reverse his decision. They know that the only real option is for the president to resume an armed conflict that he has already decided to end.
The Taliban, who ruled the country from 1996 until US forces invaded Afghanistan after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, took control of three more provincial capitals on Wednesday and two more on Thursday, the 10th and 11th which were quickly captured by the insurgents. within a week. This gave them control of two-thirds of the country.
The rebels have no air capacity and are outnumbered by US-trained security forces, but they captured territory, including Herat, the country’s third most populous city, on Thursday with astonishing speed.
In a new warning to Americans in Afghanistan, the second it has issued since Saturday, the US embassy in Kabul again asked citizens to leave the country immediately.
The notice was issued amid escalating discussions in Washington about further reducing the limited number of embassy staff.
John Kirby, the chief Pentagon spokesman, said the Afghans still had time to avoid a final defeat.
“No potential outcome should be inevitable, including the fall of Kabul,” Kirby told reporters. “It doesn’t have to be this way. It really depends on what kind of political and military leadership the Afghans can muster to reverse it.”
Biden made a similar argument on Tuesday, when he told reporters that US forces have done everything they can in the past 20 years to help Afghans.
“They should fight for themselves, fight for their nation,” he said.
The United States continues to provide support to the Afghan army with a limited number of air strikes, but so far they have not had a strategic impact and are set to end once the United States formally ceases its involvement in the conflict on August 31.
Biden could continue airstrikes after that date, but that option is unlikely given his consistent stance on ending the conflict.
“I doubt that the August 31 deadline will be final,” said Carter Melkasian, who has advised US military leaders in Afghanistan and Washington.
Senior US military officials had warned Biden that a full US withdrawal could lead to a Taliban power grab, but the president decided in April that continuing the war was a waste of him.
On Tuesday, he said his decision stands, even as there is talk that the Taliban could have Kabul within reach very soon, threatening the safety of US and foreign diplomats.
The latest US military assessment, which takes into account recent Taliban developments, suggests that Kabul may come under pressure from the insurgents in September, and the country could fall entirely into Taliban hands within two months, according to a defense official who discussed the internal analysis on the condition of anonymity.
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