Tuesday June 22, 2021
Taliban keep advancing
Bundeswehr: Can defend our camp
The Taliban are conquering further areas in northern Afghanistan and are now not far from the Bundeswehr field camp at Camp Marmal. Although the withdrawal is in full swing, the German troops assure that they are prepared for anything. Meanwhile, even civilians in the region are taking up arms.
The German soldiers are still ready to defend their Camp Marmal camp in Mazar-i-Sharif while the withdrawal from northern Afghanistan is ongoing. “The Bundeswehr constantly assesses the current security situation and adapts the protective measures accordingly. At Camp Marmal, the multinational contingent, under the leadership of the Bundeswehr and with the support of the Americans, has the strength and resources to be able to respond to threats,” said a spokesman for the operational command in Potsdam.
Sufficient protection of the German contingent will be ensured as best as possible. So far, however, the camp has not been affected. 1,000 Bundeswehr soldiers are currently stationed at Camp Marmal. We are prepared for anything, “said the spokesman for the operational command. At the same time, he emphasized:” Nothing has changed in the schedule for the withdrawal of the Bundeswehr from Afghanistan. “
The fighting between the militant Islamist Taliban and the government had spread in the north of the country over the past few days. Taliban fighters showed up at the western gate of the city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Monday. The west gate is about 15 kilometers from Camp Marmal. At least eight other districts in the provinces of Tachar, Baghlan and Balch had fallen to the Taliban within 24 hours. In total, the Taliban have conquered 50 new districts since the start of the withdrawal of foreign NATO troops on May 1. Afghanistan is divided into 34 provinces and around 400 districts.
Civilians arm themselves
Civilians and supporters of various political parties have armed themselves and joined the government’s security forces. In Mazar-i-Sharif, for example, political parties sent a total of around 2,000 men to protect the city, said Fausia Hamidi, provincial councilor. Local media also reported civilians joining the security forces in Tachar and Badghis provinces. On Sunday, the new incumbent defense minister, Bismillah Mohammadi, called on people to support the security forces. The government will provide them with everything they need for this.
Meanwhile, the Taliban have captured the most important border crossing from Afghanistan to Tajikistan. The Islamists had taken all border posts, the port and the city of Shir Khan Bandar, said the councilor of Kunduz Province, Chaliddin Hakmi. According to one officer, the Afghan soldiers had to give up all their posts and “some of our soldiers have crossed the border into Tajikistan”.
The Taliban’s attack on Shir Khan Bandar about 50 kilometers from Kunduz occurred on Monday evening, according to the military representative. “In the morning they were everywhere, hundreds of them,” he said. Taliban spokesman Sabihullah Mujahid confirmed: “Our mujahideen have full control over Shir Khan Bandar and all border crossings with Tajikistan in Kunduz.”
USA want to remain flexible
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby had previously brought up a delayed withdrawal from Afghanistan in view of the situation. The Ministry of Defense has a constant eye on the situation on site and is ready to react flexibly to it. There is currently too much violence. The US therefore retained “flexibility” should changes to the pace or size of the withdrawal be necessary, said Kirby.
According to plans by Trump’s successor Joe Biden, the withdrawal of US troops should be completed by September 11th at the latest. The remaining NATO troops are also said to have withdrawn from Afghanistan by this date. According to the Pentagon, about half of the US withdrawal is currently complete. The US Army has already handed over several bases to the Afghan Army and flown out hundreds of aircraft loads of material. The US troops are still able to support the local security forces, said Kirby. However, this changes the further the withdrawal progresses.
The Bundeswehr has also begun withdrawing its last 1,100 soldiers from Afghanistan. At the end of April, the area used by the Bundeswehr in Camp Pamir in Kunduz was handed over to the Afghan armed forces. This was followed by the properties within the Afghan Shaheen camp in Balkh province.
In order to maintain a certain Western presence in Afghanistan even after the withdrawal of the international troops, NATO wants to support the operation of the international airport in Kabul financially. Turkey has already promised to secure the airport. A US delegation will travel to Turkey on Thursday for further discussions. US President Biden received Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and the Kabul government’s chief negotiator in the intra-Afghan peace process, Abdullah Abdullah, in the White House on Friday.