US weighs attacks if Kabul at risk of falling to Taliban: Report

The US is reportedly considering sending in drones or warplanes in extraordinary crisis after Afghanistan withdrawal.

A US flag is lowered as American and Afghan soldiers attend a handover ceremony from the US army to the Afghan army in Helmand province [File: AP Photo]

The United States is considering intervening with drones or warplanes in the event big Afghan cities are at risk of falling to the Taliban, The New York Times has reported.

The report comes as the US continues its withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, with the Pentagon expected to conclude the pullout in early July, well before the September 11 deadline. A NATO-led coalition is also withdrawing its troops from the country.

Since Biden announced the troop withdrawal in April, US military officials have repeatedly raised concerns over the effect the move will have on Afghan security forces in their ongoing fight against the Taliban, which was toppled from power when foreign forces intervened in 2001 but continues to control large swaths of the country.

Of particular concern has been the planned end of US air support, which has been credited with giving Afghan forces a tactical edge over the Taliban.

On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that officials are weighing the option of sending in warplanes in what the newspaper described as “an extraordinary crisis”, such as the imminent fall of the Afghan capital Kabul.

Such an intervention would require presidential approval, officials told the newspaper. They added that it would be difficult to maintain attacks over a long period, as the US is leaving all its airbases in Afghanistan and would likely launch operations from the US bases in the Persian Gulf.

The report comes as the Biden administration is grappling with outstanding questions over its future approach to the entrenched conflict after its withdrawal before a meeting with NATO allies next week.

While pledging to support the Afghan government through aid and diplomatic efforts, US officials had previously said it would launch future military attacks in the country only as part of “counterterrorism” operations if there is a direct threat to the US.

However, officials told the newspaper there has been renewed debate over what would constitute a direct threat to the US.

Source: Al Jazeera