Kabul: ‘In the past few days, the United States has launched airstrikes on Taliban sites in Afghanistan. The US will escalate the air raids in support of Afghanistan Army if the Taliban does not cease its attacks,’ US CENTCOM chief Gen Kenneth McKenzie warned. McKenzie’s statements make it evident that the peace deal between the United States and the Taliban has been scrapped. The Taliban had warned that the consequences of US air attacks would surface soon.
Only a few hours ago, US President Joe Biden and his Afghan counterpart Ashraf Ghani had a telephonic conversation. An entire month is left for the US withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan. Besides, Biden is claimed to have instructed the Afghan government and Army to stop Taliban attacks and protect capital Kabul along with the capitals of other provinces. The US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had also conveyed this message a few hours ago.
US CENTCOM chief Gen McKenzie visited Kabul on Sunday to discuss the subject with President Ghani. After talks with the Afghan president, Gen McKenzie issued a stern warning to the Taliban during a press conference. The US will step up air raids supporting the Afghan government if the Taliban does not curb its aggression, Gen McKenzie said. However, he did not comment when asked whether the US would continue its attacks on the Taliban after US withdrawal is complete on Aug 31.
The CENTCOM chief also raised the alarm over the threat Taliban posed. ‘the Taliban is trying to strike fear by threatening to seize control of Afghanistan soon. But the Taliban cannot control Afghanistan with military operations. The situation can be managed only with a political solution, Gen McKenzie suggested. However, the Taliban has demanded Ghani vacate his office for resuming negotiations. Therefore, for now, diplomatic talks do not seem likely.
Meanwhile, the US had carried out airstrikes on Taliban strongholds for two days straight on Kandahar and Helmand provinces. Some journalists have alleged the US used Pakistan’s airspace for the air operation. Moreover, Pakistani reporters say that no matter how much Pakistan denies it, it cannot stop the United States from using its airspace for striking Taliban sites in Afghanistan.