Support our mission
 

WASHINGTON (Tribune News Service) — U.S. military aircraft have been hitting ground targets in Afghanistan in an effort to protect allies, according to U.S. Central Command, as the Taliban makes rapid advances in the void left by withdrawing U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops.

"U.S. forces have conducted several airstrikes in defense of our Afghan partners in recent days," U.S. Air Force Maj. Nicole Ferrara, a U.S. Central Command spokesperson, said by email.

She declined to provide specifics on the aircraft involved. President Joe Biden ordered B-52 bombers and AC-130 Spectre gunships to strike enemy fighters advancing toward Kandahar and other cities, the Daily Mail reported earlier on Saturday. A National Security Council spokesman referred questions to the Defense Department.

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul on Saturday urged U.S. citizens to leave Afghanistan immediately "using available commercial flight options," according to a statement on its website that cited "the security conditions and reduced staffing."

The last U.S. ground forces are scheduled to leave Afghanistan by Aug. 31. The Taliban has also been busy gaining territory and taking over customs posts at Afghan border crossings, seizing much of the government's revenue.

The group has steadily expanded its Afghan territory in recent months — controlling half of the country's 419 districts — and the militants are putting pressure on the provincial capitals, General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on July 22. Afghan security forces are consolidating around the cities as Taliban fighters attempt to isolate those population centers, he said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Visit bloomberg.com.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

An Air Force B-52H Stratofortress from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., arrives at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Thursday, July 15, 2021.
An Air Force B-52H Stratofortress from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., arrives at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Thursday, July 15, 2021. (Richard Ebensberger/U.S. Air Force)

stars and stripes videos

around the web

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up