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US doubles down on sustained support; Biden says Kabul must face down Taliban

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KABUL: Afghan leaders should come together and face down the Taliban, said US President Joe Biden on Wednesday.

“I think they’re beginning to realize they’ve got to come together politically at the top and – but we’re going to continue to keep our commitment,” he said, doubling down on continued military support to fight the Taliban.

“US will maintain its commitment of providing close air support and supplies to Afghan security forces,” he said, adding, “But, they’ve got to want to fight.”

Responding a question, Biden said, “We spent over a trillion dollars over 20 years. We trained and equipped with modern equipment over 300,000 Afghan forces. They have outnumbered the Taliban.”

His remarks come as three more provincial capitals in Afghanistan have fallen to the Taliban, putting nine out of 34 provinces in the hands of the Taliban as the US troops are departing.

The Taliban advance in Afghanistan, which has taken a series of cities in quick succession, comes as Biden has ordered all US troops out of the country by the end of the month.

The militants are now battling the Western-backed government for control of several other provinces.

While the capital Kabul has not been directly threatened by the advance, the Taliban offensive continues to stretch Afghan security forces now largely fighting against the insurgents on their own.

The President was asked by one reporter if the plan to withdraw troops had changed, in light of “irrefutable evidence” that most “Afghan forces cannot hold ground there”.

Biden said he has no regrets over the decision to withdraw military forces from Afghanistan.

We lost thousands — lost to death and injury — thousands of American personnel. They’ve got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation.”

US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad warned the Taliban on Tuesday that any government that comes to power through force in Afghanistan will not be recognized internationally.

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