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U.S. airstrikes are helping to blunt Taliban advances across Afghanistan, although Pentagon officials warn American air power alone will not be enough to push back the insurgent offensive.
For weeks, the United States has been launching “over-the-horizon” strikes from its Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar and from its carrier strike group in the Persian Gulf, hitting Taliban targets with a heavy mix of AC-130 gunships and MQ-9 Reaper drones.
But there have been questions regarding the effectiveness of the strikes, with Taliban officials claiming the group has captured seven provincial capitals over the past five days, and tweeting Tuesday that an eighth capital, Faizabad, in Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province, was about to fall.
“We have every confidence that those strikes are hitting what we’re aiming at and are having an effect on the Taliban,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters Tuesday, saying additional strikes have been carried out “in just the last several days.”
I don’t believe the Pentagon. I think they are lying. The Afghan government has lost nine provinces in a week. The Pentagon has been lying to us for years about our prospects in Afghanistan. Why should we trust it now?
American negotiators are trying to extract assurances from the Taliban that they will not attack the U.S. Embassy in Kabul if the extremist group overruns the capital in a direct challenge to the country’s government, two American officials said.
The effort, led by Zalmay Khalilzad, the chief American envoy in talks with the Taliban, seeks to stave off an evacuation of the embassy as the fighters rapidly seize cities across Afghanistan. The Taliban’s advance has put embassies in Kabul on high alert for a surge of violence in coming months, or even weeks, and forced consulates and other diplomatic missions elsewhere in the country to shut down.
American diplomats now are trying to determine how soon they may need to evacuate the U.S. Embassy should the Taliban prove to be more bent on destruction than a détente.
A reader who is a veteran of our Mideast wars writes: