The Pentagon has sent reinforcements to countries neighboring Afghanistan to protect the withdrawal of foreign forces stationed there, which is proceeding
US Defense Minister Lloyd Austin said Thursday.
"So far, the withdrawal that began less than a week ago is going as planned,"
Lloyd Austin said during a Pentagon press conference.
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Asked about the intense clashes in Helmand province since the US military began to withdraw its last soldiers from the country on Saturday, Lloyd Austin assured that they too were expected.
“What we are seeing is what we expected: increased pressure
,” he said. To protect the withdrawal process, the Pentagon has
total of six B-52 heavy bombers and 12 F-18 fighter jets
"to provide support if necessary,"
the chief of staff announced. American, General Mark Milley.
They join the USS Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group whose mission in the Gulf has been extended. Intense fighting erupted over the weekend in the southern Helmand region, after the departure of the last 2,500 American soldiers still present in Afghan territory, with more than 16,000 civilian employees of Pentagon contractors, began on Saturday. . US planes helped repel the major Taliban offensive, which led thousands of Afghans to flee their homes to escape violence, in the Lashkar Gah area. In addition, the insurgents conquered a district in the north and seized the second largest dam in Afghanistan after months of fierce fighting in Kandahar province (south).
The two Pentagon officials nevertheless wanted to be reassuring, Lloyd Austin stressing that the Afghan forces
"have counterattacked in Lashkar Gah and fought well
", while General Milley recalled that
"it is still too early to fire conclusions ”
"We will remain partners of the Afghan government and the Afghan forces, and we hope that with our support, the Afghan forces will be effective,"
added the Minister of Defense.
"They have quite important capacities but we think that it will be difficult"
, he nevertheless admitted.