US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that the Pentagon has sent reinforcements to Afghanistan’s border countries to ensure that foreign troops are “withdrawn” from Afghanistan. This is proceeding “as planned.”
Austin said at a press conference at the Pentagon: “The evacuation operation has been nearly a week and is currently proceeding as planned.”
When asked about the violent clashes in Helmand Province since the U.S. troops began to withdraw their last troops from the country on Saturday, Austin said this was expected.
He said: “We are witnessing our expectations. The pressure is increasing.”
US Army Chief of Staff Mark Millley said that to ensure the evacuation procedures, the Pentagon deployed six B-52 heavy bombers and 12 F-18 fighter jets “to provide support when needed.”
They were added to the aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower, and its mission in the Persian Gulf was extended.
Violent clashes broke out in the southern province of Helmand over the weekend. On Tuesday, the withdrawal of 2,500 U.S. troops was officially started, still on Afghan territory, and more than 16,000 civilians from the Pentagon subcontractor began to evacuate.
The Minister of Defense said: “We will continue to be partners of the Afghan government and the Afghan army, and we hope the latter can succeed with our help.”
He admitted: “They are quite capable, but we think it is not easy for them.”