Rapid Taliban advances in Afghanistan have the US military launching strikes to destroy captured artillery and armored vehicles

·2 min read
drone
A U.S. airman guides a U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone as it taxis to the runway at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. Reuters/Reuters Staff
  • The US military continues to launch regular airstrikes in support of Afghan troops.

  • Many of these strikes are aimed at destroying captured military equipment, NBC reported, citing a defense official.

  • The Taliban is rapidly gaining ground, putting pressure on the Afghan government and armed forces.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The Taliban are advancing across Afghanistan as the US withdraws, but the US military is continuing to conduct airstrikes, often to destroy military equipment captured by the Taliban, NBC News reported Thursday, citing a US defense official.

It was first reported in late July that the US military was launching strikes targeting "captured military equipment that the Taliban [were] able to seize from the" Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. Such strikes have continued as the Taliban gains ground.

NBC reported that the US military is conducting one to five strikes a day, typically with drones, with most of the airstrikes intended to destroy equipment, including weapons and supplies provided by the US, captured from Afghan military and police.

The airstrikes have taken out a number of artillery pieces and tanks, as well as Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles and Humvees, a defense official told NBC.

The unidentified defense official, one of several who told the outlet that the Taliban is overrunning Afghanistan faster than anticipated, said that while these strikes have impacts on specific battles, they are not slowing the Taliban.

"All of the momentum is going one way right now," the official said.

US Central Command declined to comment on the aim of the strikes other than to acknowledge, as the Pentagon has, that strikes are taking place in support of the ANDSF.

The Taliban took its eleventh provincial capital on Thursday, increasing pressure on the US-backed Afghan government and the beleaguered ANDSF, the Associated Press reported.

Reporting on the surrender of hundreds of Afghan forces in Kunduz, The Washington Post, citing Zargul Alemi, a member of the provincial council, reported that surrendering Afghan troops turned over Humvees, weapons, and supplies to the Taliban.

The latest US military intelligence assessments of the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan reportedly indicate that the Afghan capital city of Kabul could come under siege within just 30 days, with the country falling to the Taliban within a matter of months.

The Pentagon said Wednesday that it has the authority to conduct strikes in support of the ANDSF until the end of month, when the US drawdown is expected to be completed. It is unclear if the US will continue to provide that kind of support in the aftermath.

Speaking to reporters at the White House earlier this week, President Joe Biden argued that the Afghan forces have "got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation."

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