Kabul Battered By Rockets Ahead Of Pompeo’s Planned Talks With Taliban

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Residents inspect a damaged house after several rockets landed Saturday in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes the same day as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s meeting with Taliban leaders in Qatar.

Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

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Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

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The bloodshed has not dissuaded President Trump from his goal of withdrawing nearly half of U.S. troops in the country before the end of his term in January. The administration announced Tuesday that it plans to reduce troop totals in the country to about 2,500 by mid-January — down from its current level of 4,500 and a peak of roughly 100,000 about a decade ago.

The move would represent a big step toward fulfilling a Trump campaign promise, but it has also raised concerns among U.S. military leaders and NATO allies.

«We have been in Afghanistan for almost 20 years, and no NATO ally wants to stay any longer than necessary,» NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned in a statement released to news outlets Tuesday. «But at the same time, the price for leaving too soon or in an uncoordinated way could be very high.»

Pompeo has hailed the unfolding peace negotiations as «a moment to dare to hope.»

«It took hard work and sacrifice to reach this moment,» he said during talks in September, «and it will require hard work and sacrifice to keep it alive, and to take advantage of it so that the talks result in a durable peace.»

It is unclear exactly what will happen to U.S. troop levels under President-elect Joe Biden, who is set to take office just days after the troop drawdown is set to begin. Biden, for his part, has expressed skepticism of an extensive U.S. presence in Afghanistan, but has also looked favorably upon the idea of keeping a small contingent of troops in the country.

For now, the office of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has pledged that his officials have been instructed to «find and punish the perpetrators» of the most recent attacks in Kabul.

  • Islamic State
  • Afghanistan


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