After a string of battlefield victories, Taliban forces are trying to isolate Kabul, the Pentagon said Friday, taking over border crossings, highways and revenue lines as it marches through Afghanistan.
“You can see some effort to isolate Kabul,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said at a news conference Friday. The move “is no different from the way they’ve worked in other parts of the country, isolating provincial capitals and sometimes being able to force them to surrender without necessarily much bloodshed.”
“We are certainly concerned about the speed at which the Taliban is moving,” he added. “And as we have said from the beginning, this is still a moment for the Afghan national security and defense forces, as well as their political leadership.”
The Taliban’s accelerated march into Afghanistan’s capital fuels the urgency for US forces to assist in the evacuation of US and Afghan civilians, including State Department personnel and Afghans holding special immigrant visas that allow them to enter the country. to leave for the United States. Three battalions of American troops, or about 3,000 men, are sent to Kabul for the effort.
“No one walks away from the fact that this is potentially dangerous,” said Mr. Kirby on the American mission, which requires thousands of civilians to leave the country every day. “We are all aware of the predicament in Afghanistan.”
President Biden has vowed to end America’s longest war and withdraw his troops before the end of the month. And US forces have severely curtailed air strikes in support of Afghan forces.
Despite the rapid rise of Taliban forces and the looming threat to the capital, Mr Kirby said the wider fight to secure Afghanistan would remain in the hands of Afghan security forces.
“They have an air force, a capable air force,” he said. “They have an organizational structure. They benefit from the training we have been giving them for over 20 years. They have the material of physical those tangible benefits. Now is the time to take advantage of those benefits.”