WASHINGTON — The U.S. military has conducted a half-dozen airstrikes against the Taliban in the past 30 days, including several since the symbolic end of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan with the departure ceremony for the U.S. commander last week, two defense officials said.
The officials said the U.S. conducted two strikes overnight in Kandahar, targeting stolen military vehicles and equipment that was directly threatening the Afghan military. As the Taliban take over land, they have been collecting Afghan military vehicles and equipment left behind.
Army Gen. Scott Miller stepped down as commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan on July 12 after three years. Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, took over control of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and has full responsibility for approving airstrikes.
The officials said most of the recent strikes have been conducted by unmanned Predator drones that have flown in from the "across the horizon" locations — in other words, they fly in from outside Afghanistan.
The officials said the U.S. will continue to conduct strikes against the Taliban in support of the Afghan National Security Forces until at least the end of August, when the U.S. military mission officially ends.
It's not clear whether the Biden administration will grant the military the authority to continue airstrikes against the Taliban beyond then or whether the strikes will be allowed only against Al Qaeda or Islamic State terrorist targets.