Hundreds of Taliban fighters have been killed in heavy fighting with government forces in several Afghan provinces, officials said on Monday, as Washington announced it would end withdrawing its troops from the country by the end of August.
Washington’s announcement came as all US and NATO troops withdrew from their main air base in Bagram, from where coalition forces led operations for two decades against the Taliban and their al Qaeda allies.
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In the last 24 hours, more than 300 Taliban fighters have been killed in clashes with government forces, the Ministry of Defense said yesterday.
Points were killed in airstrikes, including yesterday’s attack before dawn, in the southern province of Helmand, where rebels and government troops clashed regularly.
There were fears that Afghan forces would fight without US air support.
“In recent days, the Afghan Air Force has intensified airstrikes against Taliban hideouts and insurgents have been killed,” said Atalah Afghanistan, a member of Helmand provincial council.
The Taliban have denied the allegations in a statement issued Friday stating “Similar, baseless allegations concerning the Taliban have been made more than once. But as of May 1, when the U.S. military began its final withdrawal of some 2,500 troops, the two warring parties clashed fiercely across the rugged countryside as peace talks between them ceased.
As a result, the Taliban have occupied dozens of areas in blister attacks targeting government forces.
Rebels have surrounded almost all major cities across the country and claimed yesterday they had occupied seven more areas in the northeastern province of Badakhshan.
The top US envoy to Kabul, Ross Wilson, attacked the guerrillas.
“The Taliban are using violent propaganda and hate speech to intimidate, threaten and attack Afghans on social media,” Wilson said on Twitter on Saturday.
“Violence and terror can not bring peace.”
The Pentagon continued its withdrawal to end America’s longest war.
The withdrawal of foreign troops from Bagram sparked further concerns that the country could move into a new civil war, as in the 1990s after the Soviet withdrawal.
“I see history repeating itself. The Americans are doing the same thing the Russians did. They are going without ending the war,” said Kabul resident Dow Hotak.
US President Joe Biden sought to allay those concerns in the White House on Friday. He said the US military maintains a “capability above the horizon” that could bring in firepower to help the government and its forces if needed.
According to media reports, the Pentagon will probably keep about 600 troops in Afghanistan to guard the huge US diplomatic mission in Kabul.