The announcement comes a few days after CNN reported that at least 22 commandos from an Afghan Special Forces unit were executed by Taliban militants in the town of Dawlat Abad in Faryab Province on 16 June.
Meanwhile, the US is continuing its efforts to withdraw troops from the country and, as of Monday, Army Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller had relinquished his post as the top US commander in charge of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission and United States Forces-Afghanistan.
US Central Command Chief Gen. Frank McKenzie, who took over Miller’s post, for his part, stressed that the transition of power “marks an important milestone in the transition of our involvement in Afghanistan, but it’s not the end of the story”.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, in turn, opposed the idea that the Taliban is being handed an “inevitable victory”, but stopped short of saying how the US will assist Afghan forces in the future.
“What we’re trying to do is protect our options going forward to make sure that the rest of this drawdown can be safe and orderly, and so we are being — I’ll just say it — we’re being fairly miserly about the kind of operational information we’re putting out there”, Kirby said, adding that this is a “delicate time” for the region.
Right now, the Taliban reportedly controls at least 212 districts in Afghanistan, while the Afghan government is in charge of 70 districts in the country. In addition, about 116 districts remain contested, according to a tracker by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Long War Journal.