House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., slammed President Biden’s “complete mismanagement” of the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and called for the U.S. military to continue to provide “close air support” to combat the surging Taliban forces.
McCarthy spoke to Afghanistan’s ambassador to the United States, Adela Raz, on Friday and then lashed out at the Biden administration.
“The White House has no discernable plan other than pleading with the Taliban,” McCarthy said in a statement late Friday. “The bungled withdrawal, reminiscent of his failed withdrawal from Iraq, is an embarrassment to our nation.”
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McCarthy said Biden must not abandon allies.
“President Biden must continue to provide the close air support necessary for the Afghan government to protect themselves from the Taliban and make sure al Qaeda and ISIS do not gain a foothold due to the Biden administration’s disastrous policies,” the top House Republican said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., offered stronger language than McCarthy in his statement after talking to Raz on Friday, saying the U.S. military should “hammer” the Taliban with airstrikes.
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“It is not too late to prevent the Taliban from overrunning Kabul,” McConnell said Friday. “The Administration should move quickly to hammer Taliban advances with airstrikes, provide critical support to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) defending the capital, and prevent the seemingly imminent fall of the city.”
The comments come as the Taliban seizes more provinces in Afghanistan while the U.S. military continues its planned withdrawal from the country by the end of August in an effort to end a nearly 20-year war. The Taliban now controls at least 20 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces as allies fear the capital city of Kabul could also eventually fall under Taliban control.
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Biden, who is away at Camp David in Maryland, had a video conference meeting Saturday morning with his national security team to discuss the ongoing exit from Afghanistan and efforts to evacuate interpreters and other at-risk Afghans who worked for the U.S. government, according to a White House official.
Biden earlier this week said he doesn’t regret his timeframe for withdrawal from Afghanistan, arguing Americans have already suffered too much injury and death in the country and Afghans have “got to fight for themselves.”
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In his remarks Tuesday, Biden said he’ll continue to keep the U.S. commitments of providing close air support, supplying Afghan forces with food and equipment and paying their salaries.
“But they’ve got to want to fight,” Biden said Tuesday. “They have outnumbered the Taliban.”
Fox News’ Patrick Ward and The Associated Press contributed to this report.