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Washington – AFP
US Chief of Staff General Mark Milley confirmed on Wednesday that the ‘Taliban’ movement has gained ‘strategic momentum’ in its attacks in Afghanistan. The militants now control about half of Afghanistan’s nearly 400 districts, but without any control over the country’s major cities, as Afghan security forces “strengthen” their forces to protect residents of the major cities, Milley said during a meeting. press conference.
He stressed that “automatic military control by the Taliban is not a foregone conclusion”.
Although the Afghan armed forces have received training and equipment from the United States, and although their numbers far outnumber the Taliban fighters, Milley estimates that this number is not the likely criterion for resolving the war. He said the two most important factors in today’s fighting are “will and leadership. This will now be a test of the will and leadership of the Afghan people, the Afghan security forces and the government of Afghanistan.”
The insurgent movement is launching large-scale military operations across Afghanistan, taking land, border crossings and surrounding cities, while the withdrawal of foreign troops is nearing completion. This negatively impacted the morale of the Afghan armed forces, which had been depleted by the years of war and the decision to withdraw foreign troops.
The ‘Taliban’ movement confirmed on Wednesday that it will not fight during the Eid al-Adha holiday, except in self-defense, but it has not announced an official ceasefire, as happened during previous Islamic holidays. But the movement has been criticized for using ceasefire announcements to fortify its positions and resupply fighters, allowing them to attack security forces when the ceasefire ended.
The Taliban’s comments came the day after President Ashraf Ghani announced in a speech that the Taliban fighters had “proven “they have neither the will nor the intent to bring peace”, as negotiations between the two warring sides made little progress. books. Minutes before his speech, three rockets landed near the presidential palace where Ghani was performing Eid prayers with senior officials in an attack claimed by the terrorist organization ISIS.
Blackhawk and bet
For his part, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has announced that the United States has supplied three Black Hawk helicopters to the Afghan military and that it will provide more military equipment in the coming days. “We will remain committed to helping the Afghan military and government in the future,” he said.
According to General Milley, the US withdrawal from Afghanistan is 95% complete, noting that the United States has withdrawn from this country nine thousand American soldiers and civilians, and equipment corresponding to shipments of 984 C-17 aircraft.
The Pentagon announced in mid-January that the number of US military personnel in Afghanistan had fallen to 2,500, but the US military also employs a large number of civilian aides, especially when contracting.
“A small group, mostly military, but also civilians and contractors, as well as diplomats, remain in Afghanistan to ensure security and strengthen our diplomatic presence in Kabul,” the US chief of staff said.
Migration of translators
In a related context, the US State Department announced that early next week a first batch of Afghans who have cooperated with the US military and want to leave their country for fear of retaliation from the Taliban will arrive in the United States. The ministry official responsible for this dossier, Tracy Jacobson, told reporters that this first batch includes about 700 Afghan translators and assistants, in addition to their immediate families, totaling about 2,500 Afghans.
The United States announced Monday that this first batch will be held for a few days at the Fort Lee military base in Virginia (200 km south of Washington, D.C.), pending the completion of the Department of Immigration Assessment. Homeland Security. applications.
Jacobson noted that a second group of 4,000 translators, collaborators and their immediate family members, about 20,000 people, were given the go-ahead from the US embassy in Kabul to obtain their immigrant visas. She added that they now have to undergo an intensive security screening, a procedure that could take several months, noting that Washington is committed to, and will try to ensure, the safety of these people after the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. send them to third countries. pending the completion of this vetting process.
Fearing for their lives if the Taliban quickly gain ground, these translators and collaborators are among 20,000 Afghans who have applied for asylum in the United States with so-called “special immigrant visas,” meaning the total number of them and their relatives could rise. up to a hundred thousand people. They will join the nearly 70,000 translators and collaborators who have already immigrated to the United States since 2008.
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