Pentagon Spokesperson: Security Situation in Afghanistan “Deteriorating”

The Pentagon logo in the briefing room at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., January 8, 2020 (Al Drago/Reuters)

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby acknowledged a “deteriorating” situation in Afghanistan amid military gains by the Taliban ahead of the U.S. withdrawal from the country, in comments to CNN on Friday.

Kirby’s remarks came after a Taliban spokesman claimed the group was in control of 85 percent of Afghanistan’s territory. The Foundation for the Defense of Democracy’s Long War Journal, which tracks Taliban control over the country, reports that the Taliban currently hold 204 out of Afghanistan’s 399 local districts.

“What we have seen is a deteriorating security situation on the ground, no questions about that, that the Taliban continues to take district centers,” Kirby told CNN. Regarding the Taliban’s territorial claims, Kirby said, “I am not in a position to quantify or validate what their assessment is.”

Kirby added, “It is concerning and it is all the more reason, as the President said yesterday, for us to want to see a political solution and an end to this fighting.”

Fighting between the Taliban and Afghan government forces comes as the U.S. prepares to end its 20-year war in the country. President Biden said the U.S. military mission would end on August 31 in a speech on Thursday.

“We did not go to Afghanistan to nation build,” Biden said in remarks at the White House, describing the conflict as an “unwinnable war” that “does not have a military solution.”

The Afghan military “clearly” has “the capacity to keep the government in place, the question is will they come together, and will they do it,” Biden added.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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