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With strategic momentum, Taliban offensive far from assured: US general

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WASHINGTON: The Taliban seem to have the “strategic momentum” of their sweeping offensives throughout Afghanistan, however their victory is far from assured, the chairman of the US joint chiefs of employees General Mark Milley mentioned Wednesday.

Practically 20 years after the US toppled the Taliban regime within the wake of the 9/11 assaults, and with the withdrawal of American-led overseas forces all however full, the resurgent militants now management about half of Afghanistan’s roughly 400 districts.

However they’ve not one of the nation’s densely populated essential cities, Milley informed a press convention.

With the militants placing stress on round half of the nation’s provincial capitals, Afghan troops are “consolidating their forces” to guard these main city facilities, he added.

“They’re taking an method to guard the inhabitants, and a lot of the inhabitants lives within the provincial capitals and capital metropolis of Kabul,” Milley mentioned.

“A Taliban automated navy takeover isn’t a foregone conclusion.”

The Taliban are surging throughout Afghanistan, snapping up territory, seizing border crossings and encircling cities.

Their success has examined the morale of the Afghan military, already battered by years of shockingly excessive casualties and, extra not too long ago, the choice by worldwide troops to go away.

Although the Afghan military has been educated and outfitted by worldwide forces, and estimates present it vastly outnumbers the Taliban’s ranks, Milley mentioned numbers are usually not all it takes to win a battle.

“The 2 most essential fight multipliers truly are will and management. And that is going to be a check now of the need and management of the Afghan folks, the Afghan safety forces and the federal government of Afghanistan,” he mentioned.

US President Joe Biden has additionally mentioned {that a} Taliban takeover is “not inevitable.”

However earlier this month he additionally warned that Afghans should come collectively towards the insurgents, and admitted it was “extremely unlikely” that one unified authorities would find yourself controlling the complete nation.

– Finish recreation ‘not but written’ –

The US has insisted it can proceed supporting the Afghan military.

Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin mentioned the USA handed over three Blackhawk helicopter gunships to the Afghan military on Friday and that extra tools would observe.

He added that US items had been positioned in Qatar to maintain preventing jihadists in Afghanistan after the withdrawal.

“We stay dedicated to serving to the Afghan safety forces and the Afghan authorities going ahead,” he mentioned.

The State Division additionally mentioned a primary group of round 700 Afghans who labored for the US military — making them targets for the Taliban — will arrive in the USA subsequent week with their quick households.

One other 4,000 staff and their households, totalling some 20,000 folks, have been cleared to obtain immigrant visas, State Division official Tracey Jacobson mentioned.

Milley mentioned US withdrawal is 95 p.c full, with the evacuation of apparatus equal to the cargo of 984 C-17 plane.

His feedback got here hours after the Taliban mentioned Wednesday they’d combat solely to defend themselves over the Muslim vacation of Eid al-Adha, however stopped in need of declaring a proper ceasefire.

The militants have mentioned they “strenuously favor” a political settlement to finish the battle with the federal government in Kabul.

However their push to capitalize on the withdrawal has left many Afghans sceptical.

President Ashraf Ghani mentioned Tuesday the Taliban had proved “they don’t have any will and intention for peace,” and greater than a dozen diplomatic missions in Kabul this week referred to as for “an pressing finish” to the offensive.

Afghan civilians, who’ve lengthy taken the brunt of the preventing, are additionally watching the Taliban advance in worry.

Many — particularly ladies and minorities — stand to lose hard-won rights and freedoms if the militants return to any type of energy.

Even when Kabul can maintain them off, civilians face the opportunity of a protracted and bloody civil battle or the nation fracturing alongside ethnic strains.

Milley mentioned the prospect of a negotiated political settlement is “nonetheless on the market.”

“There is a chance of a whole Taliban takeover or chance of any variety of different eventualities — breakdowns, warlordism, every kind of different eventualities on the market,” he mentioned.

“We’re monitoring very carefully. I do not assume the tip recreation is but written.”

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