US president says he will keep commitments to Afghanistan but insists leaders must unify to fight insurgents
WASHINGTON (AA) – US President Joe Biden said Tuesday he does not regret his decision to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan even as the Taliban continue to seize territory from government forces.
Biden maintained his plans to exit militarily have not changed despite the hardline group’s battlefield successes, emphasizing that Afghanistan’s leaders must come together to “fight for themselves, fight for their nation.”
“I’ll insist we continue to keep the commitments we made, providing close air support, making sure that their Air Force functions and is operable, resupplying their forces with food and equipment, and paying all their salaries. But they’ve got to want to fight,” Biden told reporters at the White House.
“I think they’re beginning to realize they’ve got to come together politically at the top, and we’re going to keep our commitment. But I do not regret my decision,” he added.
The full departure of US troops is expected to be completed by month’s end and the Pentagon has continued to state the process is more than 95% complete.
Earlier Tuesday, the Taliban entered Farah in western Afghanistan, making it the ninth provincial center to be partly or fully captured by the insurgents.
In a major push to repel advancing Taliban from urban centers, Afghan forces claimed that it killed 361 insurgents in air and ground offensives in the past 24 hours. The Afghan Defense Ministry said the operations were conducted in the Nangarhar, Kunar, Logar, Paktia, Paktika, Maidan Wardak, Kandahar, Sar-e Pol, Helmand, Kunduz and Baghlan provinces.
The new wave of deadly clashes started last month when, after overrunning nearly 200 rural districts, the Taliban began assaults on major cities as they marched on Herat, Kandahar, Taluqan and Lashkargah, causing panic and worry among millions of civilians.