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Afghan leader Ashraf Ghani blames U.S. pullout for Taliban resurgence

By
Kyle Barnett
U.S. President Joe Biden listens to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., on June 25. File Photo by Pete Marovich/UPI/Pool
U.S. President Joe Biden listens to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., on June 25. File Photo by Pete Marovich/UPI/Pool | License Photo

Aug. 2 (UPI) -- During a speech to lawmakers on Monday, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani called out the United States for abandoning his country as Taliban fighters step up efforts to take control of some areas.

In a speech to a joint special session of the National Assembly, Ghani criticized the near total U.S. withdrawal of forces for the first time since 2001.

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"[T]he current situation is due to a sudden decision on the withdrawal of the international troops," but "the protection of the people is our duty," Ghani said, according to Tolo News.

Despite the U.S. pullout, Ghani said he expects the resurgent Taliban will be defeated within six months.

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Taliban fighters launched offensives in several cities over the weekend and were pressing to take over Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province.

In an update last week, the United States said the withdrawal from Afghanistan was about 95% complete. U.S. President Joe Biden had said previously that the pullout would be finished by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C.

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"The Taliban has changed only in that their cruelty has increased," Ghani added, according to Tolo.

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The U.S. military has continued to provide air support to Afghan troops.

Ghani said thousands of Taliban militants that were released by the Afghan government already appear to back on the front lines.

"We have paid a high price for peace and showed great gentleness, but instead war was imposed on us," Ghani said Monday, according to Tolo.

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The Afghan government released about 5,000 Taliban prisoners as part of the withdrawal process. By the middle of July, the Taliban controlled about 50% of Afghan territories.

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