KABUL: The United States will continue airstrikes in support of Afghan forces fighting the Taliban, a top US general Kenneth McKenzie said on Sunday, as insurgents continue strikes across the country.
Since May, violence has surged after the insurgents launched a sweeping assault just days after the US-led foreign forces began their final withdraw.
The Taliban’s deadly assault has seen the insurgents capture scores of districts border crossings and encircles several provincial capitals.
The United States has increased airstrikes in support of Afghan forces over the past several days, and we are prepared to continue this increased level of support in the coming weeks if the Taliban continues their strikes,” said General Kenneth McKenzie, The central command of the major US military told reporters in Kabul.
McKenzie acknowledged that tough days are ahead for the Afghan government, but insisted the Taliban were nowhere close to victory.
“The Taliban are trying to create a sense of inevitability about their campaign. They are wrong,” he said.
“Taliban victory is not inevitable.”
McKenzie’s remarks came as Afghan officials in the southern province of Kandahar said some 22,000 families had been displaced in fighting in the region last month.
“They have all moved from the city’s volatile districts to safer areas,” Dost Mohamed Daryab, head of the provincial refugee department, told AFP.
Fighting continued on Sunday on the outskirts of Kandahar city.
“The negligence of some security forces, especially the police, has made way for the Taliban to come so close,” Lalai Dastageri, deputy governor of Kandahar province, told AFP.
“We are now trying to organize our security forces.”
Local authorities had set up four camps for the displaced people, estimated to number around 154,000.
Hafiz Mohammad Akbar, a resident of Kandahar, said that the Taliban had captured his house after fleeing from his house.
Akbar said, “They forced us to leave… I am now living with my 20-member family in the premises without toilets.”
Residents expressed concern that fighting could escalate in the coming days.
“If they really want to fight, they should go to the desert and fight, not destroy the city,” said Khan Mohammad, who went to a camp with his family.
“Even if they win, they can’t rule the ghost town.”
Kandahar, with its 650,000 inhabitants, is the second-largest city in Afghanistan after Kabul.
The southern province was the center of Taliban rule when they ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.
Evicted in 2001 in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in a US-led invasion, the Taliban have led a deadly insurgency that continues to this day.
Their latest offensive, launched in early May, has seen the group control nearly half of the country’s 400 districts.
Earlier this week, General Mark Milley, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Taliban appeared to have “strategic momentum” on the battlefield.
Global rights group Human Rights Watch said there were reports that the Taliban were committing atrocities against civilians in areas they occupied, including the town of Spin Boldak near the border with Pakistan, which they took earlier this month. Was.
HRW associate Asia director Patricia Grossman said in a statement: “Taliban leaders have denied responsibility for any abuses, but growing evidence of expulsions, arbitrary detentions and killings in areas under their control is creating fear among the population. Huh.”
Meanwhile, officials announced they had arrested four people linked to the Taliban, accusing them of carrying out this week’s rocket attack on Kabul.
“Taliban commander Momin has been arrested along with three others. They all belong to the Taliban group,” ministry spokesman Mirwais Stanikzai told reporters in a video message.
At least three rockets landed near the palace on Tuesday, when President Ashraf Ghani and his top officials held outdoor prayers to mark the start of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.
However, the attack was claimed by the jihadist Islamic State group.