As the Taliban is rapidly advancing in Afghanistan, the US has stepped up airstrikes in the country. A Pentagon official told NBC News that the US is conducting one to five airstrikes a day in Afghanistan. Most of the strikes are targeting equipment the Taliban has seized from the Afghan military, including equipment and weapons provided by the US.
US airstrikes have destroyed tanks, MRAPs, humvees, and D30 artillery pieces. US airstrikes have also killed civilians. In one instance in Lashkar Gah, the US bombed a health clinic and a school, killing 20.
The NBC report said the strikes are being carried out primarily by drones flown from neighboring countries, although the US did send flight crews back into Kabul to conduct manned bombings. Defense officials said the US is authorized to bomb Afghanistan until the end of the month, and they don’t expect airstrikes to continue after that.
Since President Biden ordered the withdrawal, Pentagon officials have been scrambling for ways to keep the war going by maintaining the ability to bomb the country and keeping a small troop presence. But the Taliban is snatching up territory quicker than the US expected, and now Washington predicts Kabul will fall within 90 days.
US officials have conceded that limited US airstrikes without a significant ground presence will do little to reverse Taliban gains. One official told NBC that the strikes are not having a “strategic impact on the fight between the Afghan military and the Taliban.”
The Pentagon has deployed 3,000 troops to Kabul to help evacuate some embassy staff. The US is urging the Taliban not to attack the embassy in the event of an attack on Kabul and is even leveraging the idea of future foreign aid for a Taliban-dominated government, another sign the US is beginning to accept defeat in Afghanistan.