German troops may stay in Afghanistan longer after Taliban advances – defense minister

© John MacDougall / Pool
The seizure of the Afghan city of Kunduz by the Taliban has prompted Germany’s defense minister to mull the possibility of delaying troop withdrawal from the country.

“It is important that we carefully examine the current situation and that we make a decision on the basis of the analysis and not according to rigid timelines, but based on the current situation,” German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said, as cited by Reuters.

The minister called the events in Kunduz “worrying,” saying that NATO should take them into account when deciding on the future of its Afghan mission.

The statement came after a successful offensive by the Taliban in the northern city of Kunduz on Monday, which saw the militants capturing an Afghan provincial capital for the first time since the 2001 US-led invasion.

READ MORE: US starts bombing Kunduz area after Taliban captures the city

The event has incurred doubts over the ability of the Afghan forces to tackle the militants and provide security in the country without foreign assistance.

NATO withdrew its combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, but around 850 German servicemen remained in the country as part of the block’s international grouping. They were involved in the training of local security forces.

Troops were scheduled to leave Afghanistan by the end of the year, but von der Leyen said that that the Germans may now remain in the country into 2016 as well.

For over a decade, Kunduz hosted Germany’s second largest base in Afghanistan, which was handed to the local military in October 2013.

“Kunduz – this is for us the place where the Bundeswehr fought for the first time, had to learn how to fight. Even though the Bundeswehr leaves Kunduz today, we will never forget this place,” Thomas de Maiziere, German defense minister, said back then.

In order to retake Kunduz from the militants, Afghan forces deployed reinforcements to the province on Tuesday.

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Heavy fighting is underway in the city, with the government forces having been able to “push back” the Taliban and recapture “a lot of buildings”, Afghan journalist, Elaf Najafizada, told RT.

Also on Tuesday, the US military launched air strikes against militant positions in Kunduz province, during which, the witnesses said, at least five civilians were killed.

READ MORE: US considered nuking Afghanistan after 9/11 – German diplomat

Also on Tuesday, the US military launched air strikes against militant positions in Kunduz province, during which, the witnesses said, at least five civilians were killed.