According to U.S. officials, Afghanistan’s capital city of Kabul could fall to the Taliban earlier than experts had initially believed when the U.S. military began to withdraw from the country after 20 years.
Officials familiar with the matter told The Washington Post that the U.S. military has assessed that a collapse could occur within the next 90 days. Others told the newspaper that a collapse could occur within the month.
The Post notes that intelligence officials in June had initially assessed that Kabul could fall within six months
“Everything is moving in the wrong direction,” one official told the Post.
A European Union official on Tuesday said that the Taliban is believed to now control 65 percent of Afghanistan. On Wednesday it was reported that the military group had seized three more provincial capitals, with the Afghan government being forced to withdraw security forces from hard-to-defend areas in order to shore up resources.
Despite the Taliban’s swift encroachment on Afghan territory, the White House on Tuesday affirmed its decision to withdraw from the country, though President Biden said the U.S. would continue to provide air support, food, equipment and salaries for Afghan forces.
“We spent over $1 trillion over 20 years. We trained and equipped with modern equipment over 300,000 Afghan forces,” Biden said when asked at a news conference if he regrets the withdrawal. “And Afghan leaders have to come together. We lost thousands. We lost to death and injury thousands of American personnel. They’ve got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki also shot back at concerns that Kabul’s fall is inevitable.
“The president continues to believe that it is not inevitable that the Taliban takes over Kabul or the country and that they need to show political will at this point to push back,” Psaki told reporters.