The Biden administration is struggling mightily to defend the president’s decision to pull out of Afghanistan after U.S. and NATO forces fought there for two decades following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, even going so far as to suggest that the failed, third-world country desires a role in international policymaking.
In a press conference Wednesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki fielded questions as Taliban forces continued to retake provincial capitals facing little-to-no opposition from hapless Afghan National Army units.
“The Taliban also has to make an assessment about what they want their role to be in the international community,” Psaki said at one point, appearing to suggest that the tribal faction will eventually take back full control over Afghanistan.
Psaki: "The Taliban also has to make an assessment about what they want their role to be in the international community."
— John Cooper (@thejcoop) August 11, 2021
But to that point, Taliban officials and commanders appear far more interested in their current efforts to retake ground currently held by Afghan government forces taking orders from the elected president, Ashraf Ghani, with eyes on the capital of Kabul.
Taliban units continue to make progress by the day. On Sunday, Taliban fighters caused panic and alarm in Kabul when they took over two major cities, Kunduz, in the northeast, and Sar-e Pul, a northern provincial capital.
“Fierce street-to-street fighting is ongoing in different parts of the city, ” said Amruddin Wali, a member of the Kunduz provincial council, as quoted by the Agence France Presse newswire service. “Some security forces have retreated towards the airport.”
“Heavy clashes started yesterday afternoon,” he added. “All government headquarters are in control of the Taliban, only the army base and the airport is with ANDSF (Afghan security forces) from where they are resisting the Taliban.”
“The Taliban have reached the main square of the city. Aircraft are bombing them,” Kunduz resident Abdul Aziz told the newswire by phone. “There is total chaos.”
Added Mohammad Noor Rahmani, a Sar-e Pul province official: “Government headquarters, including the governor’s house, police command, and the National Directorate of Security compound, are captured by the Taliban.”
A day earlier, due to the rapid Taliban advance and continuing withdrawal of all American forces, U.S. diplomatic officials at their embassy in Kabul said the situation was deteriorating rapidly in asking all Americans to leave the country without haste.
“The US Embassy urges US citizens to leave Afghanistan immediately using available commercial flight options,” said the embassy in a statement. “Given the security conditions and reduced staffing, the Embassy’s ability to assist US citizens in Afghanistan is extremely limited even within Kabul.”
On Thursday, Taliban fighters had captured two more strategic cities, Herat and Ghazni, effectively isolating Kabul.
“The city of Herat, Afghanistan’s third-largest city and a major urban center in western Afghanistan, fell to the Taliban on Thursday evening local time, with the militant group taking control of the governor’s office and Herat police headquarters, according to Afghan officials,” CNN reported.
“That morning, the city of Ghazni, a provincial capital on the road to Kabul, also fell to the militant group after ‘long and intense fighting,’ according to Nasir Ahmad Faqiri, head of Ghazni provincial council,” the network added, making it the 10th regional capital captured by the militant group.
Kandahar, in the south, is Afghanistan’s second-largest city. It has been under siege by Taliban forces for weeks, CNN added.
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