18:33 GMT24 June 2021
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    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) previously criticized US President Joe Biden’s plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by September 11, as he and other Republican lawmakers have seen the move as a decision that will leave Afghanistan vulnerable.

    Touching on Biden’s withdrawal efforts, McConnell claimed on Thursday that the Taliban could overrun the Afghan government by the end of the year should US forces be removed from the war-torn nation.

    “I think there's a high likelihood that the Taliban will be back in control of the country, maybe as early as the end of the year,” McConnell told reporters while in Kentucky.

    The congressional lawmaker underscored that it is a “mistake to completely pull out” of Afghanistan, noting that “some presence [of US troops] there for counterterrorism and training purposes is an American's best interest.”

    Last month, Biden made the decision to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan, which was met with backlash from the Taliban since it pushed back the May 1 deadline agreed to under the Trump administration.

    McConnell, as a part of the GOP backlash in April, previously called on Biden to explain why he chose now to retreat when the presence of the Taliban was still strong. On Thursday, McConnell emphasized the fact that in more than a year since the withdrawal agreement, the Taliban had largely held back on attacking US and coalition forces. 

    The Taliban has since threatened to resume the attacks due to the change in deadline, as reports state that in recent days the Taliban has occupied 52% of the country. The Taliban had previously held off on attacks largely as a result of the withdrawal agreement that was drawn up under the previous US administration.

    Earlier, Pentagon spokesperson Jack Kirby remarked that American forces had only detected “some small harassing attacks,” and that they did not have “any significant impact, certainly not on our people or our resources there and bases.” 

    Following the withdrawal initiative, the US has dispatched additional military muscle to Qatar in what the US has maintained as efforts to bolster security amid the withdrawal process and decrease the spread of the Taliban.

    The Afghan government and Taliban have continued talks related to the fight for peace, but many activists have voiced their concerns over the lack of focus on the rights of minority men and women living in Afghanistan.

    US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Thursday that the troop withdrawal procedures are proceeding as planned.

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    Tags:
    Trump Administration, Joe Biden, GOP, Taliban, Afghanistan, US
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