Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said the hastened withdrawal of foreign forces has led to the worsening situation on the battlefield, as the Taliban renewed assaults on major cities.
“The reason for our current situation is that the decision [to withdraw international troops] was taken abruptly,” Ashraf Ghani told the country’s parliament on Monday.
Presenting his security plan, Ghani expressed hope that the situation on the ground will be “under control within six months.”
The president also cited corruption and the delay of payments to security personnel as one of the pressing issues on the battlefield. TOLO News earlier quoted sources as saying that two senior commanders were accused of selling 300,000 liters of fuel that was reserved for the army.
The Taliban released a statement on Monday, criticizing Ghani and saying that “his time is over.”
The militants have been steadily gaining ground in recent months, capitalizing on the last stages of the planned departure of US forces.
Last week, the Taliban ramped up assaults on the provincial capitals of Kandahar, Herat, and Lashkar Gah, where intense fighting continued on Monday. Flights were suspended in Kandahar’s airport on Sunday after the runway was damaged by rocket fire.
The Pentagon vowed to continue to support the government in Kabul beyond August 31, when the deadline for the departure of US troops expires. Speaking to reporters last month, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the first task of the Afghan military is to “slow the momentum” of the Taliban’s offensive.
The US and their NATO allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. However, the nearly two decades of foreign military presence have failed to bring peace and stability to the war-torn country.