Since the U.S. troops began withdrawing from Afghanistan before President Biden’s Aug. 31 deadline has passed, the Taliban have already seized the country’s second and third largest cities.
Taliban fighters said Saturday they captured the provincial capital of Gardez, which would be the 19th of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals to be captured by the Islamist group if confirmed.
The Associated Press noted that more than two-thirds of Afghanistan is now under Taliban control.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has appealed to the international community for help, saying in a speech on Saturday that conversations were already underway.
According to the Daily Reuters, Ghani stated that they have begun consultations within the government with elders as well as political leaders and representatives from different levels of our community, as well as international allies.
As the Taliban close in on Kabul, U.S. troops will be arriving in Kabul this weekend to help evacuate Embassy staff.
Roughly 3,000 troops already in the Middle East will be sent to Kabul to “provide safety and secure movement of the reduction of civilian personnel out of the embassy,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Thursday.
Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.Ky.) called for the U.S. more aggressively to defeat the insurgent group. He said that the U.S. should begin conducting air strikes to stop the Taliban’s offensive, as many start to fear that Kabul may fall within the next few weeks.
McConnell and other Republicans have voiced criticism of Biden’s decision to withdraw troops, as Taliban fighters gain ground in recent days.
Some Democrats, including Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), however, have supported the decision to withdraw troops.
“The complete, utter failure of the Afghan National Army, absent our hand-holding, to defend their country is a blistering indictment of a failed 20-year strategy predicated on the belief that billions of U.S taxpayer dollars could create an effective, democratic central government in a nation that has never had one,” Murphy said this week on the Senate floor.
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Earlier this week, Biden himself continued to defend his decision, pointing to the amount of money spent and the number of Afghan troops trained.
“We spent more than $1 trillion in 20 years. Biden stated Tuesday at a news conference that over 300,000 Afghan troops were trained and equipped using modern equipment. “And Afghan leaders must come together. We lost thousands, many Americans were injured or killed, and thousands more. They have to stand up for themselves and fight for their country.