By Tom Squitieri
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon made it clear Thursday that the remains of the once-recognized Afghan government — now battling the Taliban from the Panjshir Valley — is on its own and not to expect U.S. assistance.
“The US military mission in Afghanistan is over,” Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said when asked whether DOD will support the Panjshir-based resistance with airstrikes against the Taliban. All this year the U.S. had committed and touted its willingness to provide air support to the Afghan government against the Taliban or others.
In case reporters and the resistance missed the point, Kirby said again a few minutes later: “The U.S. military mission in Afghanistan is over..”
Heavy fighting continued to be reported between the Afghan government resistance and the Taliban in the Panjshir Valley region, with both sides claiming military advances. Panjshir, northeast of Kabul, is the only province that has not fallen to the Taliban and thousands of opposition fighters have congregated there, as well as the Vice President of Afghans and remnants of the Kabul government.
It was the second time Kirby said no to helping the Afghan government.
On August 19, when asked a similar question, he said, “As I think you can see by – by events, it – it’s – the – there’s – there aren’t operations out in the rest of the country to support, and our focus in terms of air power is as the general described, and that is providing appropriate over watch for our operation, and that operation right now is at the airport.”
Last week, during air evacuations from Kabul, Kirby similarly threw Americans who were not in the capital city under the bus — saying they were are on their own to get to what was the Afghan capital if they wanted the U.S. to get them out of Afghanistan. “I don’t want to set the expectation that — that we’re going to be able to fly all over the country to pick up people,” Kirby said then.