Coalition: US conducts more airstrikes in Afghanistan

The U.S. conducted three airstrikes in Afghanistan on Wednesday to protect U.S. special forces advisers in Kunduz, a coalition statement said. 

The airstrike was conducted in "self-defense to eliminate the threat" to coalition special forces who were advising and assisting Afghan security forces, the statement said. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The coalition forces "encountered an insurgent threat in the vicinity of Kunduz airport at approximately 1 a.m." Two more strikes were conducted around 5 p.m.

"The five airstrikes were conducted to eliminate threats to coalition and Afghan forces," the statement said. 

President Obama announced the end of combat operations in December 2014, marking a transition from Operation Enduring Freedom to Operation Resolute Support. 

Since then, the coalition has limited airstrikes for counterterrorism operations and to protect U.S. and coalition forces. 

The Taliban overran the northern city of Kunduz on Monday, and the U.S.-trained Afghan forces have been battling Taliban fighters since. 

The statement also confirmed that the U.S. had conducted two airstrikes in the outskirts of Kunduz on Tuesday, at approximately 9:15 a.m. and 11:30 p.m.

The Pentagon said on Tuesday those strikes were also taken to protect coalition troops. 

"Afghan Security Forces have full responsibility for their operations in Kunduz," said the statement. 

"Resolute Support servicemembers are there to advise and assist.  However, our servicemembers have the right to protect themselves if necessary."

Some lawmakers have pointed to the fall of Kunduz as evidence the United States should change its plan to withdraw the current 9,800 U.S. troops down to several hundred next year. 

“It is time that President Obama abandon this dangerous and arbitrary course and adopt a plan for U.S. troop presence based on conditions on the ground,” Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe Memo: Powell ended up on losing side of GOP fight A pandemic of hyper-hypocrisy is infecting American politics Virginia race looms as dark cloud over Biden's agenda  MORE (R-Ariz.) said in a written statement after news of Kunduz’s fall broke.

But Pentagon and White House officials said Tuesday it’s too early to know how the fighting in Kunduz will affect those plans.

“At this point, I don’t have any sort of immediate indication this will change the long-term strategy that is in place in Afghanistan," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters onboard Air Force One on Tuesday.

Gen. John Campbell, the top commander in Afghanistan, has reportedly forwarded to the Pentagon and coalition officials alternative options to the White House's plan. He is due to testify in Congress on Oct. 6.