Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Taliban leaders have said that Trump’s move to cut off peace negotiations abruptly at the final stage has surprised them.
Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman, told Al Jazeera in Qatar’s capital Doha that,“It was astonishing for us because we had already concluded the peace agreement with the American negotiating team.”
According to Shaheen a ceasefire inside the country was never part of the negotiations but rather an intra-Afghan matter that would form part of future discussions with the country’s government,but only after foreign forces withdraw.
He said the Taliban’s agreement with the US was to offer them safe passage in the withdrawal of troops – something they would stand by if a deal is signed.
He made it clear that, “If the Americans want to not attack us, and they want to withdraw, and they sign the agreement, yes we will not attack them … But if they attack us, they continue their bombardment, their night raids, [then] that will continue from our side what has been continuing for the last 18 years.”
Peace talks between the United States and the Taliban began last October in Qatar, with the aim of ending the almost 18-year-old war in Afghanistan.
Afghan security officials in Kandahar have said that nine Police soldiers were killed in Shah Wali Kot district of the province.
The deputy spokesman of Kandahar Police, Abdul Basir Khaksar told Reporterly, “Nine soldiers were killed in Shah Wali Kot district. But it is still unclear whether they were killed by Taliban infiltrators or in a clash in the area.”
According to Khaksar, the investigations have started regarding the incident and further details will be shared soon.
In the meantime, the Taliban group in a tweet has claimed that two infiltrators of the group have killed nine Afghan soldiers in Sayfullah base at the Damani area and have taken 7 weapons, 1 minesweeper device and 4 night-vision cameras.
At least 8 Taliban insurgents including six foreign militants have been killed in Badakhshan province, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said.
The deputy spokesman of MoD, Fawad Aman said, “As a result of air operations in Dar-e Khastak area of Jaram district in Badakhshan, two Taliban insurgents along with six foreign militants of the group were killed.”
Aman added that an Uzbek citizen named Zarghawi is also among the killed.
This comes as the security forces’ operations are underway in Badakhshan and the security forces have recaptured three districts of the province from Taliban.
At least 26 Taliban insurgents were killed and a large explosive cache was destroyed in Ghazni province.
Major stronghold of Taliban insurgents in Moqor district of Ghazni province was destroyed, as a result of special joint operations by Commandos and NDS special Unit 703 along with the support from the Air Force, Ministry of Defense in a statement said on Saturday.
Twenty-six Taliban insurgents were killed in the operation, the statement confirmed.
Around 2,000 kilograms of explosives, 26 motorcycles, a vehicle, and two other Taliban compounds were destroyed in the raid.
One member of Afghan force was injured in the operation, Ministry of Defense said. The raid was carried out on Friday night, the statement mentioned.
The statement further added that the explosives had been transferred to Ghazni from a neighbouring country. They were prepared by bomb-makers of al-Qaeda-Indian Subcontinent for attacks in Kabul and other major cities of the country.
At least 63 Taliban insurgents have laid down arms in Badakhshan and joined the government, local officials confirmed.
Badakhshan press office in a statement said that 63 Taliban insurgents had laid down arms and joined the peace process on Saturday morning.
This happened in the presence of Mohammad Zakria Sawda, Badakhshan governor, head of provincial council, provincial council members, military officials, and media.
The insurgents were active in Yamgan and Yaftal Bala districts of Badakhshan, the statement said.
“Badakhshan is no longer a safe haven for foreign and domestic insurgents and the armed oppositions will be targeted if they do not join the peace process,” provincial governor said.
Afghan security forces operations have been ongoing since two weeks in Badakhshan and the forces have captured 3 districts from Taliban.
The top U.S. general for NATO said Friday that he expects increased violence in Afghanistan in the lead-up to the election later this month, adding that allies will make necessary adjustments to military operations there to protect the vote.
As per AP report, Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters, the Supreme Allied Commander, told a small group of reporters that despite recent drama over Afghanistan, the U.S. message to allies is that America and NATO remain committed to the fight. Peace talks between the U.S. and the Taliban collapsed late last week and were declared dead by President Donald Trump after a spate of deadly attacks by the insurgents.
“At this very moment the signal that we send to our NATO partners is that the U.S. is committed, NATO is committed, and the mission still remains,” said Wolters, who is in Ljubljana for a meeting of allied chiefs of defense, including Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Right now, Wolters added, “there are no discussions” with allies about any troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. Trump has said the U.S. would cut troop levels from about 14,000 to about 8,600, but talk of any pullout has been muted since Trump called off the peace talks and canceled a meeting he said he wanted to have with Afghan government leaders and the Taliban at the Camp David presidential retreat.
Wolters didn’t provide details about any potential uptick in U.S. military operations. He said the allies will do all they can to help Afghan security forces ensure a safe and secure presidential election on Sept. 28.
“We anticipate increased violence,” said Wolters, adding that planners will adjust “the stance and speed” of all the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in the country to secure the voting. He said the election “probably won’t be perfect,” but allied troops will support Afghan forces as they work to keep voters safe.
Trump, however, has already signaled an increase in offensive operations, saying Monday that “we’ve hit the Taliban harder in the last four days than they’ve been hit in over 10 years.”
US frontrunner and former Vice President, Joe Biden while talking about the future United States strategy in Afghanistan said it could depend on bases in Pakistan.
“We can prevent the US from being the victim of terror coming out of Afghanistan by providing airbases and insisting the Pakistani provides bases for us,” opined Biden, according to the New York Post.
Biden, who is attempting to secure the Democratic nomination for president in the 2020 election, mentioned his plan during Thursday night’s Democratic debate in Houston.
Thursday’s debate also gave Biden an opportunity to re-litigate the Obama administration’s decision in December 2009 to drastically increase the number of troops to Afghanistan. Biden said he was opposed to the troop surge because he favors a more narrowly tailored mission in Afghanistan.
While the 10 Democrats seeking the party nomination found common ground in their determination to oust Trump, and on the urgency of tackling climate change, their differences were on stark display when it came to health care reform — a stated priority for them all.
Russian President’s special representative for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov has met a delegation of the Taliban in Moscow and stressed the need for resumption of peace talks between the militant group and the US to end 18-year of war in Afghanistan.
“Russian Presidential Special Representative for Afghanistan, Director of the Second Asian Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry Zamir Kabulov received the Taliban delegation in Moscow,” Russian Foreign Ministry told Sputnik.
“The Russian side emphasized the need to resume talks between the United States and the Taliban… The Taliban, in turn, reaffirmed its readiness to continue dialogue with Washington,” it said.
The meeting between Russia and Taliban came days after US President Donald Trump had called off the negotiations with Taliban and cancelled a “secret meeting” with the group’s representatives at Camp David in the wake of the Kabul terror attack, which claimed 12 lives, including an American soldier.
Moscow has twice this year hosted meetings between the Taliban and prominent Afghan personalities.
On Saturday, Trump announced he had called off secret meetings with Afghan government leaders and Taliban officials that were to take place at Camp David. The president noted that the Taliban had claimed responsibility for a recent attack in Kabul that left 12 dead, including an American soldier.”
“What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position?” Trump asked in a statement on Twitter, before adding that if the Taliban cannot agree to a cease-fire, “then they probably don’t have the power to negotiate a meaningful agreement anyway.”
At least 3 civilians were killed and 2 others were injured in a blast that occurred on a volleyball ground in Pakisa province, MoI said.
Nasrat Rahimi, spokesperson for Ministry of Interior confirmed that, “3 civilians were killed and 2 others were injured after an embedded mine went off in a volleyball ground on Friday afternoon.”
Rahimi added that the mine was embedded by Taliban in Kaakar Shakoot village of Tagab district, Kapisa province.
Taliban group in a tweet denied their involvement in the incident.
Henceforth, no group has claimed the responsibility of the blast so far.