US says it is up to Afghans to defend their country

16
Washington

The United States said it was up to Afghan security forces to defend the country after Taliban militants captured a sixth provincial capital on Monday, along with border towns and trade routes.

President Joe Biden has said the US military mission in Afghanistan will end on August 31, arguing that the Afghan people must decide their own future and that he would not consign another generation of Americans to the 20-year war.

US envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad is in Qatar where he will “press the Taliban to stop their military offensive and to negotiate a political settlement”, the State Department said on Monday.

In talks over three days, representatives from governments and multilateral organisations will press for “a reduction of violence and ceasefire and a commitment not to recognise a government imposed by force”, the State Department said.

The Afghan Taliban, fighting to reimpose their rule after their 2001 ouster, have stepped up their campaign to defeat the government as foreign forces withdraw. On Monday, they took Aybak, capital of the northern province of Samangan.

“Right now the Taliban are fighting with Afghan forces to capture the police headquarters and compound of the provincial governor,” said Ziauddin Zia, a lawmaker in Aybak.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the United States was deeply concerned about the trend but that Afghan security forces had the capability to fight the insurgent group.

“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,” Kirby said.

Asked what the US military can do if the Afghan security forces are not putting up a fight, Kirby said: “Not much.”—Agencies

Previous articlePak Special Representative for Afghanistan in Doha
Next articleOver 200 held in Saudi anti-corruption purge