Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said America needs to keep forces in Afghanistan for now to prevent terrorists including al-Qaeda from regrouping and posing a threat to the U.S.
Mattis said Monday in an interview on Bloomberg Television that the U.S. can’t leave Afghanistan’s forces alone to fight terrorists and hold the country together.
“We cannot do that right now without boots on the ground,” Mattis said. “We’re going to have to stick with those countries that are not yet ready to do it on their own and keep enough boots on the ground, probably the number dropping year by year as they mature, but enough boots on the ground not to simply turn the ground back over to the very enemy that attacked us before.”
In the interview on Monday, Mattis said it’s crucial to work with allies to stabilize safe havens for terrorists.
Earlier this month at the Council on Foreign Relations, Mattis indirectly criticized the Trump administration’s current push for an accord with the Taliban by comparing it to former President Barack Obama’s troop drawdown from Iraq, which he sees as a strategic blunder that let Islamic State terrorists flourish.
“We can declare the war over but the enemy gets a vote,” he said. “The idea that we can now turn our back to this threat and that we’re going to live in an island in the global community unaffected by it just doesn’t match. We’re going to have to learn from our past.”
Clashes continued for two days between the Taliban and Afghan security forces as the Yangi Qala district of Takhar has fallen to the Taliban, local officials said.
Jawad Hijri, a spokesman for provincial governor, said that the district collapsed after Afghan forces retreated to avoid civilian casualties.
“The forces are trying to retake the district from the Taliban,” Hejri said and noted that “clashes still ongoing in the district.”
He said that 28 Taliban insurgents were killed in the clashes and “Mullah Imamuddin, a Taliban commander was also among them.
Reinforcements have been sent from the center of the province to support the local forces, he added.
At least one killed and two people were injured in an explosion in northern Balkh province, security officials said on Tuesday.
Provincial police spokesman Adel Shah Adel told Reporterly that the blast happened this morning in PD5 area of Mazar-e-Sharif City.
“The explosion was as a result of a sticky bomb attached to a bicycle which went off at a distance of 1km from the Grand Blue mosque,” Adel added.
According to Adel, the target was the mourners of the 10th of Mahram.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, on Monday, US President Donald Trump declared that talks with the Taliban aimed at ending the 18-year war in Afghanistan are ‘dead’. “As far as I’m concerned, they are dead,” he said.
Over the weekend Mr Trump cancelled secret plans to host a Taliban delegation in the US after the militant group admitted killing a US soldier.The two sides had appeared close to a deal and the Taliban said the US would “lose the most” for cancelling talks.
Mr Trump had been due to host the Taliban as well as Afghan president Ashraf Ghani at the Camp David presidential retreat before abruptly cancelling.
Mr Trump said, “They thought that they had to kill people to put themselves in a little better negotiating position”, and called the attacks “a big mistake”.
“We had a meeting scheduled. It was my idea and it was my idea to terminate it. I didn’t even discuss it with anyone else,” Mr Trump said as he departed the White House for a political rally in North Carolina.
Condemning the attack that killed 12 people, including a US soldier, he said, “I cancelled Camp David on the basis that they did something that they sure as hell shouldn’t have done.”
Mr Trump has been criticised for entertaining the possibility of hosting the Taliban just days before the anniversary of the 11 September attacks. But Mr Trump defended the idea, saying “having meetings is a good thing, not a bad thing”.
As part of the proposal the US would have withdrawn 5,400 troops within 20 weeks, in return for Taliban guarantees that Afghanistan would never again be used as a base for terrorism.