America could slow down its withdrawal from Afghanistan amid rapid battlefield gains by the Taliban which have raised alarm in Nato capitals, the Pentagon said.
Ashraf Ghani’s forces have been swept out of many rural areas since the insurgents launched a nationwide offensive at the start of May.
Joe Biden has promised all US troops will be out of Afghanistan by September, but in recent weeks officials had briefed that the pull out was ahead of schedule and could be complete as early as July.
John Kirby, Pentagon spokesman, said September remained the deadline and the pace could be adjusted by conditions.
“The situation in Afghanistan changes as the Taliban continue to conduct these attacks and to raid district centres as well as the violence, which is still too high,” he told reporters.
“If there needs to be changes made to the pace, or to the scope and scale of the retrograde, on any given day or in any given week, we want to maintain the flexibility to do that,” he said.
“We’re constantly taking a look at this, every single day: what’s the situation on the ground, what capabilities do we have, what additional resources do we need to move out of Afghanistan and at what pace.”
“All of these decisions are literally being made in real time,” he added.
Afghanistan’s main border crossing with Tajikistan was on Tuesday one of the Taliban’s latest gains.
We are seeing mass surrenders of Afghan security forces,” Kabul-based journalist Bilal Sarwary told the BBC. The Taliban have shared videos on their WhatsApp channels and websites showing government soldiers surrendering and being told to go home.
The onslaught had taken 50 of 370 districts in Afghanistan since May according to the United Nations special envoy.
Deborah Lyons told the U.N. Security Council that the announcement earlier this year that foreign troops would withdraw sent a “seismic tremor” through Afghanistan.