US still conducts airstrikes against Taliban in Afghanistan

US still conducts airstrikes against Taliban in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON – The US military has carried out a half-dozen airstrikes against the Taliban over the past 30 days, including several since the symbolic end of the US engagement in Afghanistan with the US commander’s departure ceremony last week, two defense officials said.

Officials said the United States carried out two strikes overnight in Kandahar, targeting stolen military vehicles and equipment that directly threatened the Afghan military. As the Taliban seize the land, they collect Afghan military vehicles and equipment left behind.

Army General Scott Miller stepped down as commander of US forces in Afghanistan on July 12 after three years. Marine General Frank McKenzie, Commander of the United States Central Command, has taken control of the United States mission in Afghanistan and has full responsibility for approving air strikes.

Officials said most recent strikes have been carried out by unmanned Predator drones that have flown from places “across the horizon” – in other words, they are flying from outside Afghanistan.

Officials said the United States will continue to carry out strikes against the Taliban in support of the Afghan national security forces at least until late August, when the US military mission officially ends.

It is not clear whether the Biden administration will grant the military the power to continue air strikes against the Taliban beyond that date or whether strikes will only be permitted against Al Qaeda terrorist targets or of the Islamic State.