Pentagon monitoring Taliban’s sweeping advances in Afghanistan ‘with deep concern’

WASHINGTON, July 23, 2019 (Xinhua) — The photo taken on July 16, 2019 shows U.S. Secretary of Defense nominee Mark Esper attending a Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., the United States. The U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted to confirm Mark Esper as secretary of defense, ending a nearly seven-month period that the Pentagon has been without a permanent chief. (Photo by Ting Shen/Xinhua/IANS)

New Delhi, July 12 (IANS) Pentagon officials are monitoring the Taliban’s sweeping advances in Afghanistan “with deep concern” and are encouraging its partners in Kabul to “step up” and defend their country amid the pullout of American forces, spokesman John Kirby said.

With the Taliban claiming to have taken control of 85 per cent of Afghanistan, which the US government officials dispute, Kirby told Fox News on Sunday that the Pentagon was “not unmindful” of the situation.

“We’re certainly watching with deep concern, the deteriorating security situation and the violence which is of course way too high, and the advances and the momentum that the Taliban seems to have right now,” he said.

As per the report, Kirby said that the Pentagon officials were working with the Afghan military “to encourage them to use the capacity and the capability that we know they have, and we know that they know how to defend their country”.

He stated that Afghanistan’s capacity and capabilities included a “very capable” Air Force and “very sophisticated” Special Forces that can help defend the country from the Taliban resurgence.

“This is a time for them to step up and to do exactly that,” Kirby said of their Afghan partners.

With the US Central Command estimating that more than 90 per cent of the withdrawal process is complete, Kirby said that even though the American troops won’t be supporting Afghanistan on the ground, Washington will continue to support the country and its people.

“We are not walking away from this relationship,” Kirby said.

“We’re going to continue to support them from a financial perspective, logistical perspective and certainly aircraft maintenance.”

The US pullout from Afghanistan comes after 20 years of Washington’s longest-running war.

More than 2,400 US troops have died and nearly 21,000 others wounded.

During the 20-year period, American troops trained more than 300,000 Afghan military members and security forces to help them combat the threat of the Taliban.

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