KABUL (Dispatches) – Afghan President Ashraf Ghani blamed the country’s deteriorating security Monday on the United States’ ill-planned decision to leave Afghanistan in the chaotic situation, despite claims by Washington it occupied the country to allegedly restore security to the country.
“The reason for our current situation is that the decision was taken abruptly,” he told parliament, adding he had warned Washington the move would have “consequences”.
Ghani spoke as the country’s security forces struggled to keep the Taliban at bay.
In southern Afghanistan, fighting continued in Lashkar Gah overnight as Afghan forces beat back a fresh assault from the Taliban.
“Afghan forces on the ground and by air strikes repelled the attack,” the military in Helmand said.
Resident Hawa Malalai warned of a growing crisis in the city: “There is fighting, power cuts, sick people in hospital, the telecommunication networks are down. There are no medicines and pharmacies are closed.”
Helmand for years was the centerpiece of the U.S. and British military campaign in Afghanistan – only for it to slip deeper into instability.
The vast poppy fields in the province provide the lion’s share of the opium for the international heroin trade – making it a lucrative source of tax and cash for the Taliban.
The loss of Lashkar Gah would be a massive strategic and psychological blow for the government, which has pledged to defend provincial capitals at all costs after losing much of the rural countryside to the Taliban over the summer.’
Fighting also surged in some districts of Kandahar province, the former bastion of the insurgents, and on the outskirts of its capital.
Kandahar airport came under attack overnight Sunday, with the Taliban firing rockets that damaged the runway, leading to the suspension of flights for several hours.
Afghan security forces spokesman, Ajmal Omar Shinwari, described the current status in Afghanistan as an “emergency situation.”
Meanwhile, amid the worsening security situation in the war-torn country, troops from Russia and Uzbekistan began joint military exercises on Monday near the Afghan border.
According to the Russian government, 1,500 Russian and Uzbek military forces would take part in the five-day exercises that began at the Termez military site in Uzbekistan.
Russia said it will send a larger military contingent to Tajikistan to conduct a separate trilateral drill.
Moscow is concerned that the violence in Afghanistan could destabilize Russia’s southern defensive flank and push refugees into Central Asia.