Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, targeting the country’s top spokesman and potentially hurting chances of diplomatic talks amid rising tensions between the two countries.
Zarif, a critical figure in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, dismissed the action and said it would not affect him.
U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal last year and ramped up sanctions to put pressure on Iran’s economy. The move dismantled part of President Barack Obama’s legacy and upset U.S. allies who were party to the agreement, which was designed to restrict Tehran’s pathway to a nuclear bomb in exchange for sanctions relief.
“Javad Zarif implements the reckless agenda of Iran’s Supreme Leader, and is the regime’s primary spokesperson around the world. The United States is sending a clear message to the Iranian regime that its recent behavior is completely unacceptable,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
The Civilian Protection Advocacy Group has announced that in the last month, more than 1000 civilians were killed and wounded in Afghanistan.
The Civilian Protection Advocacy Group (CPAG) in their latest report said that in the last month (July), 1175 civilians have been killed and wounded.
Among the causalities, 316 civilians were killed and 759 were injured.
According to the report of CPAG about civilian causalities, the data is collected from across 24 provinces of Afghanistan and with the highest number of civilian casualties in Kandahar, Kabul, Ghazni and Faryab provinces.
The main causes of civilian causalities were inflicted by suicide bombings, roadside bombs, air strikes and night operations in the past month, as per report.
The Civilian Protection Advocacy Group emphasized that July 2019 was the deadliest month for civilians in comparison to the other months in past three years.
Security forces reported the arrest of three people on charges of trafficking a child in Herat province.
Herat police in a statement said on Tuesday that: “a man and his wife took a three-month-old baby boy of their neighbor under the pretext of looking after him for few hours.”
The statement added that, the couple later sold the boy to another woman for worth 6000AFG in the surrounding of PD14 of Herat city under the name of their own child and cited economic problems.
The parents of the child notified the police of the incident and three individuals were detained on charges of this case, the statement said.
According Herat police, the detainees confessed to their crime and the baby boy was returned to his family.
UNAMA said that deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan Ingrid Hayden during her visit to Tehran discussed Afghan Peace with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Seyyed Abbas Araghchi.
UNAMA in a statement said on Thursday that during her visit to Tehran, Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan Ingrid Hayden met with Iran Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Seyyed Abbas Araghchi, other officials of the country and also Afghan Ambassador to Iran, Abdul Ghafoor Lewal.
The statement further added that in the meeting, Ms Hayden discussed thr security situation in the country and prospects of political developments, especially presidential elections and peace process, Afghan refugees and regional cooperation.
Meanwhile, Iranian media reported that in the meeting with UN deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan Ingrid Hayden, Abbas Araghchi said that consultations with Afghan neighbors and answering their concerns will ensure Afghan government’s success in implementing any agreement with Taliban.
Mr. Araghchi criticized the unilateral approach in Afghan peace process and expressed doubt towards US intentions in Afghanistan.
US President Donald Trump on Wednesday said that he wants to get out of Afghanistan “as quickly as he can” and reiterated that the US should not have been in these wars.
“We’ll continue to (pull out troops from Afghanistan). Well, we’re going to see. We’re working on negotiating a deal right now, as you probably have heard, and you know, at some point, we want to get out as quickly as we can,” Trump told C-Span in an interview.
The Trump administration has intensified its efforts in recent months to seek a negotiated settlement of the war in Afghanistan where the US has lost over.
US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad is currently holding talks with the Taliban to work out an agreement for withdrawal of the US troops and participation of the rebel group in the Afghan government.
His remarks come just two days after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that President Trump has ordered him to reduce the number of American troops in war-torn Afghanistan before the presidential elections in 2020, but Pompeo later retracted his statement and said the media misinterpreted his remark.
Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza, who was chosen heir to the leadership of Al-Qaeda, has been killed according to US media.
NBC News claims that three US officials had confirmed they had information of Hamza bin Laden’s death whereas The New York Times cited two US officials saying they had confirmation that he was killed during the last two years in an operation that involved the United States.
Questioned by reporters in the Oval Office, President Donald Trump did not confirm or deny the NBC report.
“I don’t want to comment on it,” he said.
Both reports suggested that bin Laden may have been killed well before the US State Department announced a $1 million bounty on his head in February 2019.
The 15th of Osama bin Laden’s 20 children and a son of his third wife, Hamza, thought to be about 30 years old, was “emerging as a leader in the Al-Qaeda franchise,” the State Department said in announcing the reward.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday clarified that a massive U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan before the 2020 election, has no deadline for the end of the American mission there.
In response to reporters’ questions en route to a diplomatic trip to Thailand, Pompeo criticized the press for misinterpreting his earlier answers for when the nearly 18-year-old military conflict will come to a close.
“They got it wrong,” he said. “The president has been very direct about his expectations that we will reduce our operational footprint on the ground in Afghanistan just as quickly as we can get there.
“I hope they’re out not only before the next election, but before we land today.”
The comments came just a few hours before U.S. officials announced two more military deaths in the country.
A day earlier, during an appearance at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., Pompeo was asked “before the next presidential election in the United States, would you expect we reduce our troops in Afghanistan?”
He responded by saying “That’s my directive from the president of the United States. He’s been unambiguous. End the endless wars, draw down, reduce.”
He also added that “it’s not only my expectation, it would be job enhancing.”