Mattis, Nato chief renew commitment to Afghan conflict

Katrina Barker
Сентября 30, 2017

Taliban spokesman Qari Yusouf Ahmadi said insurgents captured and held Maruf for a few hours, and seized weapons and other items before leaving the district.

Mattis was holding a press conference away from the airport at the time of the attack, and told reporters that Afghan forces would strongly oppose the action. Rockets hit two civilian homes close to the airport.

An Afghan hospital official says at least four people have been killed and 20 wounded in a suicide bombing attack outside a Shiite mosque in the capital Kabul.

Farid Bakhtawar, the head of the provincial council, confirmed the killing of the policemen and warned they would be overrun if reinforcements do not arrive soon.

The SpiceJet plane was slated for take-off at 11.20 am when the airport came under attack. One woman was killed and 11 other civilians were injured by the Taliban shelling.

At the presser, both Mattis and Stoltenberg pledged continued support for Afghanistan and vowed to do everything possible so the country "doesn't again become a safe haven for global terrorists".

USA generals have for months been describing the situation in Afghanistan as a stalemate, despite years of support for Afghan partners, continued help from a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation coalition and an overall cost in fighting and reconstruction to the United States of more than $1 trillion.

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"If NATO forces leave too soon, there is a risk that Afghanistan may return to a state of chaos and once again become a safe haven for global terrorism", he said.

He also said North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was committed to funding the Afghan security forces until at least 2020, and would continue to provide them nearly $1 billion (£743 million) each year.

Mattis pledged that "through our partnership, we will suffocate any hope that al-Qaida or ISIS, Daesh, Haqqani or the Taliban have of winning by killing", referring to the militant groups operating in Iraq.

Ghani called on insurgents to join the peace process for the success of Afghan-owned peace process.

The budget carrier operates five flights every week to Kabul. "I want to reinforce to the Taliban that the only path to peace and political legitimacy for them is through a negotiated settlement", Mattis told a joint news conference with Ghani and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

The strategy will give US commanders greater freedom to use American firepower against the militants but, speaking a few hours before the air strike, Mattis said they would do "everything humanly possible" to prevent civilian casualties.

Earlier this year, Ghani ordered a near-doubling of the country's Special Operations Command ─ the elite fighting force spearheading Afghanistan's war against insurgents ─ from 17,000 as part of a four-year plan that also aims to strengthen Afghanistan's air force.

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