US closely monitoring current situation in Afghanistan: Milley

The Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley told the US Senate that the Taliban had taken control of numerous districts since May, but that the group would not be able to capture major cities.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has meanwhile said that Afghanistan is still in the world’s spotlight and that the United States will continue to support Afghanistan.

US intelligence sources have said however that the government will not last six months after the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.

The escalation of fighting and the spiraling out of control of a number of districts in recent days pulled senior US security officials into the US Senate.

The US Defense Secretary and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were summoned to a Senate hearing to answer questions about the current situation in Afghanistan.

Milley acknowledged that the Taliban have stepped up their attacks to seize district centers since the start of the withdrawal process of US troops from Afghanistan, but insists the United States is monitoring the current situation closely and said the Taliban cannot seize provincial capitals.

“We are closely monitoring the situation in Afghanistan. The Taliban are not strong enough to occupy provincial capitals. Currently, 81 districts, out of 419, are under Taliban control. Before the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, 60 districts were in the hands of the Taliban.” Milley said.

However, Austin said there is now a new chapter in Kabul-Washington relations, one in which Afghan forces can fulfill their responsibilities to their people.

“Afghanistan is in the spotlight. We have now entered a new phase in our relationship with our Afghan partners, a relationship that helps them fulfill their responsibilities to their citizens,” Austin said.

However, US intelligence sources told The Wall Street Journal that the Afghan government would fall within six months after the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. U.S. senators also say the Taliban’s conquest of districts is dangerous.

“The Taliban have taken control of several areas, including one of the most important in Kunduz province, and this is not the last case. Dozens of districts have been taken over by the Taliban since the peace talks stopped. We see the situation in Afghanistan with our own eyes every day,” US Senator Doug Lamborn said.

But the Afghan government maintains that Taliban movements are temporary and that the Afghan military can defend its territory with the cooperation of the people.