US plans to slow down Afghan withdrawal amid Taliban offensive

A few weeks before the planned end of the withdrawal process for American forces, the insurgents encircle several major Afghan cities.

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The withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan could be slowed in view of the Taliban’s military advances on the ground, the United States announced on Monday (June 21), stressing that this would not call into question the deadline of September 11. “Plans could fluctuate and change if the situation changes”, said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, questioned during a press briefing on the advance of the Taliban, which surrounds several large Afghan cities.

“If there are any changes to be made in the pace, scope or extent of withdrawal on any given day or week, we want to maintain the flexibility to do so.”, he clarified. But “there are two things that have not changed”, added the spokesperson. “First, we will complete the full withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan except those that will remain to protect the diplomatic presence, and second, it will be done by early September, as ordered by the commander-in-chief. “, Democratic President Joe Biden. The latter decided in April, against the advice of the military, to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan by the twentieth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. More than 50% of withdrawal operations have already been completed.

John Kirby said the US military continues to provide air support to Afghan forces, but that support will not go until the last day of US military presence in Afghanistan. “When the withdrawal nears its end, these abilities will decline and they will no longer be available.”, he admitted. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his government’s chief negotiator in talks with the Taliban, Abdullah Abdullah, are due at the White House on Friday, June 25.

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