WASHINGTON: The United States (US) said it was up to Afghan security forces to defend the country after Taliban captured a sixth provincial capital on Monday, along with border towns and trade routes.
President Joe Biden has said the US military mission in Afghanistan will end on Aug. 31, arguing that the Afghan people must decide their own future and that he would not consign another generation of Americans to the 20-year war.
US envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad has left for Qatar where he will “press the Taliban to stop their military offensive and to negotiate a political settlement,” the State Department said on Monday.
The Taliban, on Monday, took Aybak, capital of the northern province of Samangan.
“Right now the Taliban are fighting with Afghan forces to capture the police headquarters and compound of the provincial governor,” said Ziauddin Zia, a lawmaker in Aybak.
“Several parts of the capital have fallen to the Taliban.”
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the US was deeply concerned about the trend but that Afghan security forces had the capability to fight the Taliban.
“These are their military forces, these are their provincial capitals, their people to defend and it’s really going to come down to the leadership that they’re willing to exude here at this particular moment,” Kirby said.
Asked what the US military can do if the Afghan security forces are not putting up a fight, Kirby said: “Not much.”
The United States carried out less than a dozen strikes over the weekend as the Taliban overran the provincial capitals, in one instance simply destroying equipment.
One official said the Afghan forces did not ask for any support as Kunduz was being overtaken.
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