Thursday, June 10, 2021

Report: Pentagon Mulls Seeking Authorization for Airstrikes If Kabul Falls to Taliban - FARS

(FNA)- The Pentagon is considering asking authorization for air raids to support Afghan security forces if Taliban militants threaten to seize Afghanistan's capital city of Kabul or another major city in the country, The New York Times reported on Wednesday, citing senior officials.

According to the report, the military authorities are actively talking over how they will respond if the hasty pullout has significant national security ramifications.

Officials reportedly stated that no decisions had been taken yet.

Nevertheless, one of the options being considered is recommending that US bombers or armed drones engage in the case of an extreme crisis, such as the possibility of the Taliban taking Kabul, or a siege putting American and its allies embassies and citizens in danger.

Any additional airstrikes would reportedly need to be approved by the president in person. Although the sources noted that such air assistance would be difficult to maintain over time due to the massive logistical effort that would be required in light of the US military pullout.

Hence, by next month, the US will have decommissioned all of its airbases in Afghanistan, and any air raids will have to be launched from locations in the Persian Gulf.

According to the newspaper, the collapse of Kabul is indeed the situation most likely to prompt military action after US soldiers leave. But intervening in the conflict to protect Kandahar, Afghanistan's second-largest city, would reportedly be significantly less certain.

In recent months, Taliban forces have increased their military presence and activities near a number of other metropolitan centers around the country.

The daily stated that such discussions within the military's top circles could be an indicator of the concerns in the US about the military and political survival of the Afghan government, which reportedly tempered the attempts of President Joe Biden's predecessors to withdraw all troops from the country.

Among other issues of grave concern are how US soldiers will carry out counterterrorism missions to prevent terrorist groups from re-establishing a presence in Afghanistan, as well as how Western contractors will continue to support the Afghan military.

The US military command reportedly does not exclude at all that the resistance of the Afghan Army will break, should its commanders and air forces falter. But the US will not offer further air support to Afghan forces in rural areas, many of which are already under Taliban control, nor it will support government outposts already under siege across the country.

The Afghan military, which was built, trained, and supplied in the image of the American military, is expected to begin defending the country on its own by early July, with the Pentagon reportedly aiming to complete the withdrawal of American forces by that date.

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