LONDON: The US has said there is “not much” it can do to prevent the Taliban from retaking Afghanistan, with senior Pentagon officials saying the nation’s fate is in Afghan hands.
When asked if Washington would continue giving support to Afghan government forces resisting the rapid Taliban advances, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters: “It’s their struggle.”
He said he is “deeply concerned” that the Taliban are increasingly dominant, but reaffirmed that President Joe Biden is committed to ending the US military presence on schedule.
Taliban and Afghan government officials have confirmed that the group has secured control of six provincial capitals in recent days in the country’s north, west and south.
The US has conducted fewer than a dozen airstrikes during this period of rapid Taliban expansion, with Pentagon officials reporting that no order has been received to increase airpower deployments.
Kirby said the US will promote the use of diplomatic channels to end the fighting. Washington has sent envoy Zalmay Khalilzad to Qatar — where the Taliban has its main office — to “press the Taliban to ... negotiate a political settlement.”
But on the use of military force to support Afghan government troops, Kirby said: “These are their military forces, these are their provincial capitals, their people to defend, and it’s really going to come down to the leadership that they’re willing to exude here at this particular moment.”
Taliban spokesman Muhammad Naeem Wardak warned the US on Sunday against deploying any assets in support of Afghan government forces.