The United States will continue air strikes in support of Afghan forces fighting the Taliban, a top US general said Sunday, as the insurgents press on with offensives across the country. “The United States has increased air strikes in the support of Afghan forces over the last several days, and we are prepared to continue this heightened level of support in the coming weeks if the Taliban continue their attacks,” General Kenneth McKenzie, head of the US Army Central Command, told reporters in Kabul.
McKenzie’s remarks came as about 22,000 families were displaced by the fighting in the past month in the southern city of Kandahar itself. On Sunday, fighting continued on the outskirts of Kandahar city, and McKenzie acknowledged that US air force had carried out air strikes in the province in recent days. Since early May, violence has surged after the insurgents launched a sweeping assault just days after the US-led foreign forces began their final withdrawal which is now almost complete. The Taliban’s deadly assault has seen the insurgents capture scores of districts, border crossings and encircle several provincial capitals. Recently, the United States carried out air strikes as it backed the Afghan army’s bid to repel a Taliban offensive, the Pentagon said, with the withdrawal of international forces from the country. US airpower has long provided Afghan forces with a tactical advantage against the Taliban — one that many fear will be eroded by the withdrawal of international troops, though Afghanistan’s own fledgling air force is flying into the breach.