The insurgent assaulted a vital city in Afghanistan’s south on Friday, less than 24 hours after President Biden reaffirmed his decision to withdraw from the country.
By Adam Nossiter
KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban forces on Friday penetrated Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second-largest city, in a new phase of a sweeping insurgent offensive that has captured territory across the country since May 1, when U.S. forces began withdrawing.
The insurgents had been encroaching on Kandahar city, the capital of the province of the same name, for several weeks, capturing surrounding districts, before entering the city for the first time Friday.
Taliban fighters entered Kandahar’s Seventh Police District Friday, seizing houses and engaging with security forces in the area, said Bahir Ahmadi, the spokesman for the Kandahar governor. Commandos and other special forces units were battling the insurgents well into the evening, proceeding cautiously because the area is heavily populated, Mr. Ahmadi said.
The Afghan Air Force struck a number of Taliban positions in neighboring districts, as the insurgents attempted to push their way into the city.
The attack comes less than 24 hours after President Biden defended his decision to end American involvement in Afghanistan, asserting that the United States can no longer afford the human cost or strategic distraction of a 20-year conflict that he said had strayed far from its initial mission.
In a nod to the ongoing instability, Mr. Biden said the United States would remain engaged in diplomatic efforts and continue to support the Afghan government with money and supplies even after all U.S. troops withdraw.
The president also affirmed that he did not believe a Taliban takeover of the whole country was inevitable, calling the Afghan security forces “better trained, better equipped and more competent in terms of conducting war.”
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