WASHINGTON — The U.S. military has conducted a half-dozen airstrikes against the Taliban in the past 30 days, including several since the symbolic end of American involvement in Afghanistan with the departure ceremony of the U.S. commander last week, according to two defense officials.
The officials say the U.S. conducted two strikes overnight in Kandahar, targeting stolen military vehicles and equipment that was directly threatening the Afghan military. As the Taliban take over land they have been collecting Afghan military vehicles and equipment left behind.
On July 12, Gen. Scott Miller stepped down as commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan after 3 years at the helm. Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, took over control of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and now has full responsibility for approving air strikes.
The officials say most of the recent strikes have been conducted by unmanned Predator drones that have flown in from the “across the horizon” locations — in other words, they fly in from outside Afghanistan.
According to the officials, the U.S. will continue to conduct strikes against the Taliban in support of the Afghan National Security Forces until at least the end of August, when the U.S. military mission officially ends.
It’s not clear if the Biden administration will grant the U.S. military the authority to continue airstrikes against the Taliban beyond that date or if the strikes will only be allowed against al Qaeda or ISIS targets.