KABUL — The United States has launched several airstrikes in support of embattled Afghan forces in recent days, U.S. officials said Friday, an escalation in U.S. involvement in Afghanistan as the Taliban seizes more territory from government forces.
The airstrikes were conducted at the request of Afghan forces under attack by the Taliban or to destroy equipment stolen by the militants, including artillery and vehicles, according to the two U.S. officials.An Afghan military official, also speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the situation, said the escalation of U.S. strikes has been “significant” compared to recent months, concentrated in the northern province of Kunduz and in Kandahar.
“Strategic momentum appears to be sort of with the Taliban,” Milley said.
For weeks, the Afghan military has bitterly fought to maintain control of provincial capitals after losing huge swaths of the country’s rural territory, often with little or no resistance. Militants have besieged the capitals by seizing districts nearby, choking off key roads in a bid to deny Afghan troops freedom of movement.
No provincial capitals have fallen, but Milley said the Taliban’s strategy has forced Afghan security forces to abandon some districts and reconsolidate to defend populated cities.