US increases airstrikes to help Afghan forces fight Taliban

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The U.S. military this week has stepped up airstrikes to help Afghan forces in their fight against the Taliban, the Pentagon confirmed Tuesday.

“A number of strikes have occurred over the last several days from both manned and unmanned strike platforms,” Pentagon spokesman Maj. Robert Lodewick told The Hill in a statement. No additional details were given.

The strikes follow last week’s two airstrikes against the Taliban targeting captured equipment. The steady stream of strikes has taken place as the militant group has taken over large swaths of Afghanistan since the U.S. military began its withdrawal.

During a visit to Kabul on Sunday, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) head Gen. Frank McKenzie also said the U.S. military had increased airstrikes in support of Afghan forces over the last several days.

“We’re prepared to continue this heightened level of support in the coming weeks if the Taliban continue their attacks,” McKenzie, who oversees the U.S. military withdrawal, told reporters following a meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

He added that the U.S. would continue to provide “contract logistics support both here in Kabul and over the horizon in the region, funding for them, intelligence sharing, and advising and assisting through security consultations at the strategic level.”

The U.S. troop withdrawal is more than 95 percent finished, according to CENTCOM’s latest assessment of the pullout released Tuesday.

The Pentagon still must decide whether it will continue to bolster Afghan government forces with airstrikes after the U.S. military finishes its withdrawal, set for Aug. 31 by Biden administration officials.

McKenzie on Sunday declined to commit to ending airstrikes against the Taliban by the end-of-August deadline.

“For the days and weeks ahead, we will continue with our airstrikes in support of our Afghan partners, and that’s all I’ll be able to give you,” he said.

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