Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Friday that the United States should begin conducting airstrikes against the Taliban and provide assistance to Afghan forces to prevent the insurgent group from capturing the Afghan capital.
McConnell said in a statement that “it is not too late to prevent the Taliban from overrunning Kabul. The Administration should move quickly to hammer Taliban advances with air strikes, provide critical support to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) defending the capital, and prevent the seemingly imminent fall of the city.”
“If they fail to do so, the security threat to the United States will assuredly grow and the humanitarian cost to innocent Afghans will be catastrophic,” the Kentucky senator warned.
McConnell also stated that he spoke with Afghanistan’s ambassador to the United States and that they had a “urgent conversation” about “the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and the unfolding humanitarian crisis.”
Republicans have increased their criticism of President Biden’s decision to withdraw US troops in recent days, as conditions in Afghanistan have rapidly deteriorated as a result of the Taliban’s recent gains.
According to The Associated Press, the Taliban now control 14 of the country’s 34 provincial capitals. This week saw the capture of several major cities, including Kandahar and Herat.
Last month, Biden defended his decision to withdraw troops, rejecting the notion that a Taliban takeover in Afghanistan was “inevitable.”
“The Taliban is not the North Vietnamese Army. They’re not remotely comparable in terms of capability,” he said during a speech in the White House East Room. “There’s going to be no circumstances where you’re going to see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy in the United States from Afghanistan.”
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres on Friday urged the Taliban to halt their offensive and “negotiate in good faith.”
“The message from the international community to those on the warpath must be clear: seizing power through military force is a losing proposition. That can only lead to prolonged civil war or to the complete isolation of Afghanistan,” Guterres said.
“I call on the Taliban to immediately halt the offensive and to negotiate in good faith in the interest of Afghanistan and its people,” he continued.
Taliban sweep across Afghanistan’s south, take 4 more cities
The Taliban completed their sweep of Afghanistan’s south on Friday, taking four more provincial capitals in a lightning offensive that brought them closer to Kabul.
In the last 24 hours, the country’s second- and third-largest cities — Herat in the west and Kandahar in the south — have fallen to the insurgents, as has the capital of the southern province of Helmand, where American, British and NATO forces fought some of the bloodiest battles of the conflict.
The blitz through the Taliban’s southern heartland means the insurgents now hold half of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals and control more than two-thirds of the country. The Western-backed government in the capital, Kabul, still holds a smattering of provinces in the center and east, as well as the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.
While Kabul is not currently under attack, the resurrected Taliban were fighting government forces in Logar province, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the capital. According to the US military, Kabul could be under insurgent attack within 30 days, and the Taliban could take over the rest of the country within a few months. They have already taken over much of the country’s north and west.
- Taliban capture Kandahar, Herat, Lashkar Gah
- Afghan forces give up some territory without a fight – officials
- U.S. tells embassy staff to burn sensitive material
- U.N. warns of ‘humanitarian catastrophe’
- Veteran anti-Taliban commander captured in Herat