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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

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Top US commander in Afghanistan relinquishes post

The top military” target=”_blank”>U.S. commander< relinquished his position at a ceremony in the capital Kabul on Monday, taking the United States a step closer to ending its 20-year conflicts” target=”_blank”>war<

In recent weeks, the Taliban have gained several strategic districts, particularly along the borders with Iran, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Afghanistan’s National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib, who attended the handover, said the U.S. and NATO withdrawal has left a vacuum that resulted in Afghanistan’s national security forces stranded on the battlefield without resupplies, sometimes running out of food and ammunition.

In comments after the ceremony, Mohib said the greatest impact of the withdrawal is a lack of aircraft to resupply troops. Currently, the government is regrouping to retake strategic areas and defend its cities against Taliban advances.

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The Taliban control more than one-third of Afghanistan’s 421 districts and district centers. A Taliban claim that they control 85% of the districts is widely seen as exaggerated.

After Miller’s departure, a two-star admiral based at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul will oversee the U.S. military’s role in securing the American diplomatic presence in Kabul, including defending the Kabul airport.

Miller’s departure does not reduce the scope of the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan, since McKenzie will assume the authorities now held by Miller to conduct airstrikes in defense of Afghan government forces under certain circumstances. The conditions under which such strikes might be used are not clear, nor is it known for how long McKenzie will keep the strike authority.

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A deal the U.S. struck with the Taliban in February 2020 included a promise from the insurgent movement not to attack U.S. and NATO troops, a commitment it appears they have largely kept.

While Washington is not saying how many troops remain in Afghanistan, a CENTCOM statement more than a week ago said the withdrawal was 90% complete.

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President Joe Biden has reiterated that the U.S. will remain engaged in Afghanistan with humanitarian assistance. The U.S. also is committed to spending $4.4 billion annually to fund Afghanistan’s security forces until 2024.

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