WASHINGTON – Even with three regional centers in northern Afghanistan falling to the Taliban in a single day on Sunday, including the vital provincial capital of Kunduz, President Biden and his advisers were not changing their plans to complete the US military withdrawal the country by the end of the month, according to a senior administration official.
Mr Biden was aware of the situation in Kunduz but was not changing course, the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the details, said on Sunday.
Over the past week, Taliban fighters have moved rapidly to retake towns around Afghanistan, assassinating government officials and killing civilians in the process. But administration officials have publicly continued to hope that Afghan forces would have the resources and the capacity to retaliate, while negotiating a peace deal with the Taliban that seems increasingly unlikely by the hour.
Asked about the Taliban’s progress on Friday, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters that Mr Biden has long been prepared to make “tough choices” as part of his pledge to back out of the country. Afghanistan.
“The president has made it clear: after 20 years of war, it is time for US troops to return home,” Ms. Psaki said. “He also feels and said that the Afghan government and the Afghan National Defense Forces have the training, equipment and manpower to prevail, and the time is right for leadership and will in the face of aggression and to Taliban violence.
On Sunday, the senior administration official said the White House strategy remained unchanged. The Defense Ministry was ready to provide resources if needed, the official added, but the dominant strategy was to continue as planned and leave it to the Afghan authorities to recapture Kunduz and defend other towns.