US officials told several media outlets on Wednesday that Kabul could fall to the Taliban within 90 days. The prediction is based on a new intelligence assessment that was made in light of the Taliban’s rapid territorial gains.
The new assessment was first reported by The Washington Post. The report said that some believe Kabul could fall in as soon as a month, and a US military official told Reuters that the Taliban could “isolate” the city within 30 days.
The Taliban have been rolling through government-controlled areas, capturing provincial capitals, airports, and border crossings. It was estimated by EU officials Tuesday that the Taliban now controls about 65 percent of Afghanistan, although the number could be higher at this point.
The Taliban hasn’t attacked Kabul yet, but the reports suggest Washington expects an offensive on the city soon. Before the new assessment, US intelligence predicted in June that Kabul could fall within six to 12 months after the US and NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan.
President Biden has set August 31st as the deadline for his withdrawal, but the US has plans to keep about 650 troops in Afghanistan that would be based out of the embassy in Kabul. The Taliban’s success has thrown a wrench in the plans, and Politico reported Wednesday that the US is considering evacuating the embassy.
Biden has also said that the US would continue providing air support to the Afghan military, but US officials have conceded that limited air support would not reverse the Taliban’s gains. The US has stepped up airstrikes in recent weeks, but it has done little besides killing civilians.