US General Pledges More Air Support to Afghan Forces

As violence continues to increase in the country, a top US general on Sunday said the United States will continue to carry out airstrikes to support Afghan National Defense and Security Forces facing Taliban attacks.

Addressing a news conference in Kabul on Sunday evening, US CENTCOM Commander Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, who met with President Ashraf Ghani on the same day, said Afghanistan is going to face hard days ahead, but added that “there is a path that could lead us to a political solution to this war.”

“The United States has increased airstrikes in the support of Afghan forces over the last several days and we’re prepared to continue this heightened level of support in the coming weeks if the Taliban continue their attacks,” McKenzie said.

Going into details about the US’s support to Afghan forces, McKenzie said, “Specific support that I reassured the government that we will continue to provide includes airstrikes in defense of ANDSF forces under attack by the Taliban, contract logistic support both here in Kabul and over-the-horizon in the region, funding for them, intelligence sharing and advising and assisting through security consultation at the strategic level.”

He said he discussed the Afghan forces security plan for the defense of Afghanistan with the acting defense minister Gen. Bismillah Mohammadi.

President Ghani last week said that he has prepared a security plan that will change the situation within next three to six months.

“I was also here to reassure them about continued United States support for their security efforts,” he said. “We had very good dialogue on the government’s defense plan to stabilize the security situation.”

This comes as the Pentagon last week announced that the US troops withdrawal will complete by end of August.

He said the government of Afghanistan faces a strong test in the days ahead.

“The Taliban are attempting to create a sense of inevitability about their campaign but they’re wrong. There is no preordained conclusion to this fight. Taliban victory is not inevitable,” he noted.

There have been some meetings between the Afghan Republic and the Taliban’s negotiators in the last two weeks.

The next meeting of high-level delegations from both the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban will take place at the beginning of next month, sources close to the negotiating teams in Doha said.

The first meeting was held on July 16 and lasted for two days, during which delegates agreed to continue their meetings and expedite the peace efforts. However, attendees failed to reach an agreement on a ceasefire.

The sources said that efforts will be made through these meetings to achieve a framework for peace talks as the withdrawal of US and coalition forces is expected to be completed by the end of August.

“It will be helpful if an authoritative team attends the meeting this time, but if the delegation has less authority, it will not have an outcome,” said former Taliban commander Sayed Akbar Agha.

The efforts for peace come as fighting continues on multiple fronts that have led to the fall of a large swath of territory to the Taliban.