Withdrawal of US-led force might give way to civil war

Over the past month, the Taliban have gained several strategic positions.  In Washington officials have expressed concern over the increasingly high level of violence. More and more people are caught between the Taleban and the Afghan military.

Kabul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Afghanistan might plunge into civil war once US and allied troops complete their pull-out.

A senior US official, General Scott Miller, said that the country could face “very hard times” if its leadership fails to unite against the Taliban's advance. This is in line with UN Special Envoy for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons’s warning of “dire scenarios”.

Since the start of the withdrawal, violence has increased enabling the Taliban to capture more than 50 districts out of 370, with several cities encircled, and Taliban forces closing in on the capital Kabul.

The lack of US air support for the Afghan military has favoured Taliban operations whose recent advances were the result of an “intensified military campaign”, Lyons added.

“Those districts that have been taken surround provincial capitals, suggesting that the Taliban are positioning themselves to try and take these capitals once foreign forces are fully withdrawn.”

The Taliban also captured Afghanistan's main border crossing with Tajikistan in the strategic northern province of Kunduz.

In the provincial capital, also called Kunduz, refugees complain of the situation. “The Taliban are on one side of the war and the government is the other side. We do not know where to take shelter,” said one Kunduz resident displaced by the fighting. “We do not have electricity, food or water,” she added.

According to the Afghan government, its security forces have killed more than 6,000 Taliban in the last month. The Defence minister reported yesterday that the army has managed to reclaim two districts, although fighting continues.

Also yesterday, during a press conference, the US State Department called on the Taliban to respect the agreement it struck with the United States and reduce the level of violence in the country.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the situation remained “dynamic” and, although the Taliban gains had not changed the withdrawal, set for 11 September, there was still the flexibility to alter its “pace and scope”.