On June 30th, CNN reported that the US could complete its withdrawal from Afghansitan within days, but approximately 1,000 troops will remain.
CNN cited an unnamed US official with knowledge on the matter.
“This week could be a critical week in the withdrawal and end of the retrograde process,” a different defense official told CNN.
A third defense official insisted to CNN on June 29th that the number of US troops in Afghanistan for embassy protection and airport security would not exceed 650 for now.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the US withdrawal will not necessarily mean the end of NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, despite NATO’s decision in April to start and complete its own troop drawdown within a few months.
“It is my understanding with the completion of the retrograde of US forces, retrograde, withdrawal, of US forces from Afghanistan, with accepting, of course, whatever is left behind to protect our diplomatic presence, that that does not necessarily mean the end of Resolute Support,” Kirby told reporters Tuesday. He added, “Really, that is a question better posed to NATO.”
On June 29th, Germany flew out its last remaining troops from Afghanistan, too. The last of the soldiers have now been flown out of the northern city of Mazar.
The contingent also included members of the KSK special forces, who were tasked with securing the camp during the move.
Nach 20 Jahren haben heute Nacht die letzten Soldatinnen und Soldaten unserer Bundeswehr #Afghanistan verlassen. Sie sind nun auf dem Weg nach Hause. Damit geht ein historisches Kapitel zu Ende – ein intensiver Einsatz, der uns gefordert und geprägt hat. Ministerin @akk: pic.twitter.com/Z2ynBsL4yj
— Verteidigungsministerium (@BMVg_Bundeswehr) June 29, 2021
Meanwhile, the Taliban are making more gains, with the Afghan security forces attempting to fight them, but constantly being on the back foot.
Taliban fighters have launched an attack on Ghazni, clashing with Afghan forces and using explosives in an attempt to seize the central Afghan city, local officials said.
The June 29th assault on Ghazni, on the highway linking the capital Kabul with the southern province of Kandahar, ramps up the Taliban’s offensive against the government and comes as foreign troops prepare to exit from the war-torn country in less than three months.
Since early May, the Taliban has launched several bloody offensives against government forces across the rugged countryside. The Taliban claim to have seized at least 100 of the country’s more than 400 districts.
Heavy fighting was also reported in the week ending on July 4th in the provinces of Kandahar and Baghlan, where the Afghan forces claimed to have retaken areas from Taliban control but the group still held on to parts of Pul-e-Khumri area in central Baghlan, according to local media.
These gains worry the US, but there’s very little that can be done.
Gen. Austin Scott Miller, who is overseeing the troop exit, said that he is deeply concerned of Taliban progress as battlefield hostilities between Taliban insurgents and U.S.-supported Afghan government forces have escalated across the conflict-torn nation.
Speaking to reporters in the Afghan capital, Kabul, the general described the security situation as “not good right now.” He said recent insurgent territorial gains were concerning and cautioned the Taliban against attempting to take control of the country by force.
“A military takeover is not in the interest of anyone, certainly not for the people of Afghanistan,” said Miller.
Miller acknowledged that any loss of territory impacts overall security in the country.
“Because districts start representing key terrain as it relates to security of the people, of the provincial capitals and certainly security of the capital,” said the U.S. general.
He also cautioned that pro-government militias being deployed around the country to help the beleaguered Afghan security forces in containing Taliban advances could plunge the country into civil war.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Military Situation In Afghanistan On June 29, 2021 (Map Update)
- Military Situation In Afghanistan On June 26, 2021 (Map Update)