(Los Angeles times): Fighting in Afghanistan will intensify sharply and Taliban militants could threaten major cities unless a Biden administration diplomatic push to end the 20-year conflict yields results in the next two months, according to two senior U.S. commanders. The tight time frame is driven by a May 1 deadline to withdraw the remaining U.S. troops from Afghanistan, as required under a deal with the Taliban that President Biden inherited from the Trump administration. Biden has not decided whether to proceed with the withdrawal, U.S. officials said. The troop level, which was announced as 2,500, is temporarily as much as 1,000 higher, because of overlaps as units arrive before departing ones leave, officials said. The Afghan government was left out of the Trump agreement. So without a broader diplomatic deal to restrain Taliban fighters, the Afghan government’s control over key population areas, including the capital, Kabul, is likely to rapidly deteriorate, especially if the American pullout goes ahead, the Pentagon said. “If we withdraw and no deal was made with the Taliban, I think the government of Afghanistan is going to be in for a very stiff fight to retain possession” of towns and cities, Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the top U.S. commander in the Middle East, said in an interview Saturday after talks in Kabul.