WASHINGTON, September 30, 2015 ? U.S. forces conducted an airstrike today on the outskirts of Kunduz, a provincial capital in northern Afghanistan that was taken yesterday by Taliban forces, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said today.
The airstrike was a “force-protection strike conducted by a fixed-wing manned aircraft” to eliminate a threat to coalition and Afghan forces in the area, Cook told reporters. In a statement later, he said the strike was conducted by an F-16 against a Taliban target that was advancing toward the airport and presenting a threat to U.S. and coalition personnel.
“We strongly condemn the attacks in Kunduz, and stand with the Afghan people in our commitment to Afghanistan’s peace and security,” he said during his briefing with reporters.
Confidence in Afghan Forces
The situation is a setback for Afghan forces, Cook acknowledged, but he said the the United States has confidence in the Afghan government forces.
“We’ve seen them respond in recent weeks and months to the challenges they face, and they’re doing the same thing in Kunduz right now,” he said.
The situation remains fluid, the press secretary said, adding that it highlights the “ongoing challenge that the Afghan security forces are taking on every single day [and] the very dangerous situation that they face.” In his statement, Cook said Afghanistan has amassed a force numbering in the thousands to retake the city.
The United States will continue to work closely with its international partners and the Afghan government, Cook said, to ensure Afghan forces have the capabilities and training necessary to “preserve the gains made by the Afghans and the international community over the last 13 years.”
By Lisa Ferdinando
(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)