US keeps option of airstrikes in Afghanistan open

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AGENCIES

Washington

The Pentagon is mulling to authorise airstrikes in Afghanistan if country falls into crisis due to rise in violence by Taliban in the country following US troops pull-out.

Citing The New York Times, The Hill reported that US senior administration officials said that military officials are actively discussing how to respond to potential consequences following the withdrawal of US troops, slated to be completed by
September.

The officials said that decisions to potentially allow airstrikes following troop withdrawal haven’t been made yet, but one option now would be to recommend US warplanes or armed drones intervene in a major crisis, such as the fall of Kabul, or other parts of the country fall to the Taliban.

One official told The Hill that intervening to help Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second-largest city, would be far less certain.

As per the Times, President Biden and his administration had said previously that air support would also end, except for strikes that target terrorist groups that could impact American interests.

The US is not likely to provide additional air support to Afghan forces in rural areas, many of which are under Taliban control. Military help is also not likely at government enclaves across the country, the newspaper reported.

Additional airstrikes would require Biden’s approval, the Times
noted.

The National Security Council declined to comment to the Times on the options being discussed.

The Hill has reached out to the White House and the Pentagon for comment. The report comes as the US military reaches the halfway point of withdrawing
forces.

Biden said in April that all US troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by September 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that sparked the conflict.

Meanwhile, President Biden said at the time that the US would continue to provide humanitarian assistance and support peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.