US President Joe Biden acknowledged on Thursday that the Taliban have "more military strength" than at any other time since the beginning of the Afghanistan war in 2001, and considered "highly unlikely" that there is a "united government" that can control that whole country.
In a speech at the White House, Biden, however, defended his plans to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan and announced that that process will be completed by August 31, a new deadline earlier than originally announced, of August 11. of September.
"Speed is (synonymous with) security" for the US military, Biden opined during a speech that turned into an impromptu press conference.
The president was not at all optimistic about the future of the country, where the Taliban have captured 110 of the 402 districts since the departure of US and NATO troops began in May.
The Taliban Regain Ground
A Pentagon spokesman also said the Taliban had seized dozens of district centers in Afghanistan.
“They have taken dozens of district centers, that's true. And we believe that they intend to threaten provincial provincial centers as well, "said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.
Since the United States began withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan in May, Taliban insurgents have captured 100 of the country's 402 districts, taking over 35% of the territories under their control.
Afghan National Army soldiers patrol the area near a checkpoint recaptured from the Taliban, in the Alishing district of Laghman province
"The Taliban are stronger militarily than ever since 2001," Biden said.
However, the president said that "it is not inevitable" that the Taliban will regain control of Afghanistan, and expressed his "confidence in the capacity" of the Afghan security forces.
He added that "the only way that there will be peace and security in Afghanistan" is if the Afghan authorities negotiate a "modus operandi" with the Taliban, within the peace talks in the country.
Most of the British troops have already left Afghanistan
Most of the British troops that were still present in Afghanistan, that is 750 soldiers assigned to training and support the Afghan army, have already left the country, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Thursday.
Following the US and NATO withdrawal, "all British troops assigned to the NATO mission are now returning," Johnson told MPs.
"For obvious security reasons, I will not reveal the timing of our departure," but "most of our staff have already left," he stressed.
A total of 150.000 British troops have served in Afghanistan since the 2001 intervention in the country by a US-led coalition. Of them, 457 died.
Their combat tasks ended in 2014 and since then they have been engaged in support missions, Johnson explained, recalling that after this international withdrawal the Taliban "must respect the commitments" they made in the peace agreement.
"It will take the combined efforts of many nations, including Afghanistan's neighbors, to help Afghanistan build its future," he told parliament.
"But the threat that brought us to Afghanistan in the first place has been greatly diminished thanks to the courage and sacrifice of the British armed forces and many others," he said.
With information from DW