Confederate military base name change prompts sharp Trump veto threat

Confederate military base name change prompts sharp Trump veto threat

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

Eastern Oregon residents eye revolt to join Idaho amid daily protests in Portland

Quiz: Who said these famous quotes in history?

NIH’s ‘Shark Tank’-style competition helps develop rapid coronavirus test

Quiz: Can you pass a European history test?

War footing: Trump takes on Putin, China in international power battle

SPONSORED CONTENT

How To: Fix Dark Spots And Uneven Skin Tones

Commentary

Victor Davis Hanson

Why the current cultural revolution isn’t like the ‘60s

Cal Thomas

They’re coming for our guns (really)

Michael McKenna

Progressives must destroy American history to complete their new order revolution

View all

Question of the Day

Should schools re-open in the fall?

Question of the Day

 
Yes

 
No

 
Not sure

  View results

Story TOpics

In this Jan. 4, 2020, file photo a sign for at Fort Bragg, N.C., is shown. A warrant officer stationed at Ft. Bragg was convicted in a civilian court of sexual abuse of a minor, but must be additionally convicted … more >

Print

By Lauren Meier

The Washington Times

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

President Trump on Tuesday issued a blistering threat to veto the House’s version of the massive 2021 defense policy bill if it contains language that would rename military bases that honor Confederate leaders.

The veto threat, which also attacked provisions to curb the president’s plans to reduce troops in Afghanistan and Germany, came as lawmakers in both the House and Senate moved toward approving their separate versions of the $740.5 billion National Defense Authorization Act, which sets policy and spending standards for the coming year.

On a 295-125 vote, the Democratic-controlled House on Tuesday evening approved its version of the NDAA, which includes a provision that would mandate the names of 12 military bases that are named for Confederate leaders within one year. The bill, which includes a 3% pay raise for military personnel, attracted enough support to theoretically override a presidential veto, including more than 100 House Republicans.

TOP STORIES

Justice at last: 'Evil woman' outed for grabbing girl's game ball

Rubio: Chinese Consulate in Houston is a 'front' for 'massive spy operation'

Ex-cardinal McCarrick accused of running child sex ring out of beach house

The Senate’s version of the bill, which is expected to be voted on this week, includes similar language but would mandate the change over the period of three years.

The name change attracted some Republican support in both chambers.

“If [the House NDAA] were presented to the president in its current form, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto it,” said the 13-page memo addressed to the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House Armed Services Committee.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly threatened to veto the must-pass legislation if it contains provisions to rename the military bases. His latest veto threat applies heightened pressure to congressional Republicans, many of whom have already backed amendments to implement the changes.

The White House has not yet issued a formal threat to veto the Republican-led Senate’s version of the NDAA.

“President Trump has been clear in his opposition to politically motivated attempts like this to rewrite history and to displace the enduring legacy of the American Revolution with a new left-wing cultural revolution,” the memo said.

Calls for the military to confront racism within its ranks were sparked following George Floyd’s death, a Black man who died in police custody. Defense Secretary Mark Esper last week announced an effective ban on the display of Confederate flags at military facilities, but did so without mentioning the symbol by name.

Despite the political firestorm, Mr. Trump could point to a nationwide poll released Tuesday found that half of Americans do not support renaming military bases that honor Confederate leaders.

Fifty percent of U.S. adults said they are against renaming military bases named after Confederate generals, and 42% said they support it, according to ABC News/Washington Post polling. By a 52% to 43% margin, Americans also said they are against removing statues honoring Confederate generals from public places.

Mr. Trump argues that casting Confederate figures and symbols as racist is absurd, given that the sites have served as key training grounds for soldiers who went on to fight in World War II and other conflicts.

But lawmakers of both parties have backed efforts to rename North Carolina’s Fort Bragg, Virginia’s Fort Lee and the other 10 Army installations that bear the names of Confederate figures. Republican members have introduced legislation to block the move, but the efforts have failed in both chambers.

Several prominent retired generals have also supported the move to rename bases, arguing that the Confederate figures not only supported the slave states, but that they had tried to destroy the United States.

In the veto threat, the Trump administration also cited bipartisan policy issues included in the House’s bill that seek to curtail Mr. Trump’s hopes of reducing the number of American troops in Afghanistan and Germany, as well as limiting the amount of military funds that can be used for construction of a border wall with Mexico.

“[The White House] also has serious concerns about provisions of the bill that seek to micromanage aspects of the executive branch’s authority, impose highly prescriptive limitations on the use of funds for Afghanistan, and otherwise constrain the President’s authority to protect national security interests,” the Office of Management and Budget argued in the veto message.

“Many of these provisions would pose significant challenges to continued execution of the [National Defense Strategy].”

Families step in at Kabul COVID-19 ward to care for patients

Families step in at Kabul COVID-19 ward to care for patients

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

Eastern Oregon residents eye revolt to join Idaho amid daily protests in Portland

Quiz: Who said these famous quotes in history?

NIH’s ‘Shark Tank’-style competition helps develop rapid coronavirus test

Quiz: Can you pass a European history test?

War footing: Trump takes on Putin, China in international power battle

SPONSORED CONTENT

How To: Fix Dark Spots And Uneven Skin Tones

Commentary

Richard W. Rahn

Supporters of Black Lives Matter in denial of real-world consequences

Michael McKenna

Biden presidency would push expensive climate plan

Robert Knight

Smithsonian busted for race hustling

View all

Question of the Day

Should schools re-open in the fall?

Question of the Day

 
Yes

 
No

 
Not sure

  View results

Story TOpics

Afghan doctors help a patient to breathe through an oxygen mask in the Intensive Care Unit ward for COVID-19 patients at the Afghan-Japan Communicable Disease Hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday June 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) more >

Print

By Tameen Akhgar

Associated Press

Monday, July 20, 2020

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The intensive care unit at the Afghan capital’s premier hospital for COVID-19 patients is a medical nightmare — and a stark warning how the country’s war-ravaged health care system risks collapsing.

Family members, without protective equipment and only a few wearing face masks, help care for the patients lying in hospital beds. They say they have no choice because there are not enough nurses and other medical staff.

The next-of-kin often guard their loved one’s oxygen tank, fearing it could be stolen because there is a shortage of just about everything, including oxygen cylinders.

TOP STORIES

USS Headache: Navy's newest aircraft carrier stymied by snafus from the start

Church sues California Gov. Gavin Newsom over ban against at-home Bible studies

Chad Wolf, acting DHS head: We don't need invitations from mayors, governors to do our jobs

The 100-bed Afghan-Japan Communicable Disease Hospital in western Kabul is one of only two facilities for coronavirus testing and treatment in the Afghan capital. Newly graduated Afghan doctors have joined the 370-member staff after many of the hospital’s experienced physicians walked out a few months ago, fearing the virus.

The 92-square-meter (1,000-square-foot) ICU ward has only 13 beds, and COVID-19 patients admitted here are in critical condition; few are hooked up to ventilators, some of the others rely on oxygen tanks.

Assadullah, who like many Afghans goes by only one name, says he struggled to stay awake night after night at the ICU ward, guarding the tank that kept his father alive. In his father’s final days, the relative of another patient came over, threatening to take the tank.

“Your father is dying but mine is alive, he told me … in such a situation, how could I have left my father alone,” said Assadullah, who lost his father to the virus on Tuesday.

Abdul Rahman, 42, feels the same way and rushes to rub his 70-year-old mother’s back every time she coughs.

A few beds away, 64-year-old Mohammad Amin’s left foot has turned black from gangrene that set in after a blood clot due to the virus. His son and wife tend to him as best they can, but they say it’s exhausting.

For the hospital’s director, Hakimullah Saleh, every staffer is a hero, risking their own life to provide critical care. They face so many work challenges, he said, on top of which they sometimes have to deal with “threats” from distraught families who feel the hospital is not doing enough.

One of Saleh’s heroes, Dr. Jawad Norzai, is relentless in his devotion to the patients, he said. Along with his job as chief surgeon, Norzai visits over 60 patients a day and finds the time to train new doctors, Saleh said.

The 32-year-old Norzai got his medical diploma in 2013 and worked first for private hospitals, joining the Afghan-Japan only after hearing how many of the staff had left. Norzai said he, like many medical professionals, contracted the virus but recovered. He said he infected several of his family members but luckily, they also recovered.

Another one of the Afghan-Japan doctors who recovered from the virus is Mozhgan Nazehad, 35. “I spent three nights awake because of severe pain, back pain, and lower limb pain, that pain I will never forget,” said Nazehad, who lives apart from her family to keep them safe.

The other hospital that treats COVID-19 patients is the Ali Jenah, funded by Pakistan, a 200-bed but less-equipped facility, also in western Kabul. There is also an isolation center in the dormitory of the Kabul University, but it does not provide treatment.

According to the Health Ministry, more than 1,700 medical workers — including 40 at the Afghan-Japan hospital — were infected while providing care to COVID-19 patients; 26 have died.

Afghanistan has so far recorded almost 35,000 cases of the virus, including 1,094 deaths, with the number of infections thought to far outnumber the official tally.

The International Rescue Committee warned last month that Afghanistan is on the brink of a humanitarian disaster because the government is unable to test some 80% of possible coronavirus cases.

The Health Ministry said it now has the capacity to test only 2,500 people per day. Last month, 10,000 to 20,000 people were coming daily, asking to be tested, but the government had to turn many down. Afghanistan has one doctor for every 3,500 people, less than a fifth of the global average, according to the World Health Organization.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Tuesday that in addition to the COVID-19 health crisis faced in Afghanistan, the socioeconomic impact of the virus could become catastrophic with 12.4 million people — one third of the country’s population — already considered to be living at “emergency” levels of food shortages.

Seemingly indicative of the fractured health care system, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s special envoy for economic development, Yosuf Ghaznafar, went to Turkey when he became ill with COVID-19. He died of the disease there in early July, according to a statement from the presidency – the most senior Afghan official so far to die of the virus.

Taliban make big changes ahead of expected talks with Kabul

Taliban make big changes ahead of expected talks with Kabul

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

Rise of Kim Jong-un’s sister marks increase North Korean cyberattacks

Quiz: Can you pass a U.S. Constitution test?

New St. Andrews College president under fire after ‘we know science’ bathroom video

Quiz: Are you smarter than an 8th grader?

Not so Top Gun: Navy’s newest $13 billion supercarrier plagued by mechanical woes

SPONSORED CONTENT

How To: Fix Dark Spots And Uneven Skin Tones

Commentary

Everett Piper

America burns while our schools hold the match

Charles Hurt

Baseball is the answer

Scott Walker

Biden doesn’t understand that tax cuts work

View all

Question of the Day

Should schools re-open in the fall?

Question of the Day

 
Yes

 
No

 
Not sure

  View results

Story TOpics

FILE – In this March 9, 2020, file photo, Washington’s peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, attends Ashraf Ghani’s inauguration ceremony at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan. The Taliban put the son of the movement’s feared founder in charge of its … more >

Print

By KATHY GANNON

Associated Press

Friday, July 17, 2020

ISLAMABAD (AP) – The Taliban have put the son of the movement’s feared founder in charge of their military wing and added several powerful figures to their negotiating team, Taliban officials said. The shake-up, one of the most significant in years, comes ahead of expected talks with Kabul aimed at ending decades of war in Afghanistan.

As head of a newly united military wing, 30-year-old Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob brings his father’s fiercely uncompromising reputation to the battlefield.

Equally significant is the addition of four members of the insurgent group’s leadership council to the 20-member negotiating team, Taliban officials told The Associated Press.

TOP STORIES

Terry Crews to Nick Cannon apologists: 'I was never afraid of the KKK. It was people like you'

Supreme Court to decide if constitutional rights are only valuable when a price tag is on them

Seattle police chief stunned at push to fire cops based upon race: 'It's illegal'

The shuffle, overseen by Taliban leader Mullah Hibatullah Akhunzada, is meant to tighten his control over the movement’s military and political arms, the officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the inner workings of the Taliban.

Analysts say the shake-up could be good news for negotiations with the Afghan political leadership, and a sign of how seriously the Taliban are taking this second – and perhaps most critical – step in a deal Washington signed with the insurgents in February.

“I’d say it appears to be a positive development because the Taliban are creating a delegation that seems more senior and more broad-based than they’ve used to date, or than might be strictly necessary for the opening stages of talks,” said Andrew Wilder, vice president of the Asia Program at the Washington-based U.S. Institute of Peace.

“If you want to see the glass as half full, this strengthened Taliban delegation could be interpreted as a sign that the group is planning to engage in serious discussions,” he said.

When the U.S. signed the deal with the Taliban on Feb. 29, after more than a year and a half of negotiations, it was touted as Afghanistan’s best chance at peace in four decades of war. It was also seen as a road map for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, ending America’s longest war.

On Monday, four-and-a-half months since the signing, chief U.S. negotiator and peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad tweeted that “a key milestone in the implementation of the U.S.-Taliban agreement” had been reached as American troop numbers dropped to 8,600 from about 12,000 and five bases were closed in Afghanistan.

Even as Khalilzad chastised increased insurgent attacks on Afghan security forces, he said the Taliban had been true to their word not to attack U.S. and NATO troops.

“No American has lost his/her life in Afghanistan to Taliban violence. Regional relations have improved,” he tweeted.

The Taliban have stepped up their military activity against Afghan government forces since Yaqoob’s appointment in May, a sign the militants under his leadership may see battlefield wins as upping their leverage at the negotiating table.

“I can see a lot of reasons for the Taliban to be pushing the envelope – perhaps as a negotiation tactic, but equally likely as a means to test U.S limits,” said Daniel Markey, a senior research professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. “So far, the Trump administration looks like it is heading for the exit, no matter what. Why not ratchet up the violence to see what greater victories can be won? ”

Surprisingly, the shuffle also sidelined senior Taliban leader Amir Khan Muttaqi, removing him from the negotiating committee. Seen as close to neighboring Pakistan, his removal could limit Pakistan’s influence and buttress their position with Kabul, which is deeply suspicious of Islamabad.

Already a deputy head of the movement, the sudden appointment of the son of Mullah Mohammed Omar as the Taliban military chief reportedly ruffled feathers among members of the leadership council, who had not been consulted. Yaqoob, however, met with the council and won over the dissenters, said the Taliban officials.

“Yaqoob’s appointment appears to be, at least in part, an effort by Mullah Akhundzada to shore up oversight of battlefield operations at a key moment … as the insurgents ramp up violence to strengthen their negotiating position in preparation for potential peace talks with the Afghan government,” said Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia Program at the Washington-based Wilson Center.

In recent weeks, hopes have been raised of a July start to negotiations but the Taliban and the Kabul government have become bogged down in the final release of prisoners, a prerequisite for the start of negotiations. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told the AP on Friday that the Taliban reject government efforts to substitute prisoners from the originally negotiated list for the exchange.

Countries have been lining up to host the talks, with Germany being the latest to put in an offer and Turkey, Iran, Indonesia, Japan and Norway reportedly among the nations volunteering. However, the Taliban and Afghan government officials say the first round is likely to be held in Doha, the capital of Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office.

The newly strengthened negotiating team includes Abdul Hakeem, the Taliban’s chief justice and confidant of Akhunzada, as well as Maulvi Saqib, who was chief justice during the Taliban rule.

Under the U.S.-Taliban deal, the Taliban – who during their rule of Afghanistan hosted al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden as he planned the 9/11 attacks – have pledged to no longer host any terror groups. They also guarantee that Afghanistan will not be used as a launching arena for future attacks against America.

In a tweet this week, Khalilzad said “more progress is needed on counter-terrorism,” without elaborating.

This week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also spoke about the controversy surrounding the White House over reports of Russian money being paid to Afghan militias – reportedly with links to the Taliban – to kill U.S. troops.

“There’s a lot of Russian footprint; there are Russian weapon systems there. We have made clear to our Russian counterparts that we ought to work together to get a more sovereign, more independent, peaceful Afghanistan,” he said.

___

Associated Press writer Matthew Lee in Washington and Tameem Akghar in Kabul, Afghanistan contributed to this report.

U.S. meets deadline to cut number of troops in Afghanistan

U.S. meets deadline to cut number of troops in Afghanistan

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

Rise of Kim Jong-un’s sister marks increase North Korean cyberattacks

Quiz: Can you pass a U.S. Constitution test?

New St. Andrews College president under fire after ‘we know science’ bathroom video

Quiz: Are you smarter than an 8th grader?

Not so Top Gun: Navy’s newest $13 billion supercarrier plagued by mechanical woes

SPONSORED CONTENT

How To: Fix Dark Spots And Uneven Skin Tones

Commentary

Michael McKenna

Expect huge tax increases and a slumping economy if Biden wins

Victor Davis Hanson

NFL fans will not tolerate watching multimillionaires dishonor the flag

Andrew P. Napolitano

A brief history of the freedom of speech in America

View all

Question of the Day

Should schools re-open in the fall?

Question of the Day

 
Yes

 
No

 
Not sure

  View results

Story TOpics

In this June 10, 2017, file photo provided by Operation Resolute Support, U.S. soldiers with Task Force Iron maneuver an M-777 howitzer, so it can be towed into position at Bost Airfield, Afghanistan. Moscow and Washington are intertwined in a … more >

Print

By Ben Wolfgang

The Washington Times

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The U.S. has officially met its deadline to cut the number of troops stationed in Afghanistan, the Pentagon said late Tuesday, complying with a key requirement laid out in the Trump administration’s landmark peace deal with the Taliban.

Defense Department officials say that as of July 13, the U.S. now has about 8,600 troops in Afghanistan and has turned over control of five military bases to Afghan security forces. Those steps were mandated in the U.S.-Taliban peace deal signed in late February.

The agreement said that within 135 days, the U.S. would cut its forces from roughly 13,000 to 8,600. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which complicated American troop movements around the world, the Pentagon says it has met the deadline.

TOP STORIES

Black Lives Matter leader Charles Wade charged with sex trafficking

Cancel culture punishes Goya Foods over pro-Trump remarks; calls for boycott land with a thud

Trump plans to send federal authorities into cities to break up 'war zone' of violence

“July 13, 2020 marks 135 days since the signing of the U.S.-Taliban Agreement on Feb. 29, 2020. As stipulated in the agreement, the United States agreed to reduce its forces in Afghanistan to 8,600 and withdraw from five bases. We have met this obligation,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement. “U.S. forces in Afghanistan remain in the mid-8,000s and five bases formerly occupied by U.S. forces have been transferred to our Afghan partners.”

“U.S. military presence in Afghanistan remains focused on capabilities — not numbers,” he said. “We maintain the capabilities and authorities necessary to protect ourselves, our allies and partners, and U.S. national interests.”

Under the agreement, the Taliban agreed to not allow Afghanistan to become a base of operations for terrorist groups, and it also agreed to halt attacks on U.S. personnel.

While the Taliban has picked up the pace of attacks against Afghan security forces, U.S. officials say there have been few, if any, direct attacks on American personnel.

The deal also called on the Taliban to begin formal peace talks with the U.S.-backed government in Kabul, though the two sides have struggled to get those negotiations under way.

The American troop drawdown also has come despite clear warnings by the Pentagon that Afghanistan remains a national security challenge. A sweeping Pentagon report on Afghanistan security released earlier this month found that remote areas of the country remain home to “terrorist sanctuaries” and some Taliban members routinely cooperate with extremist groups such as al Qaeda.

Taliban kill 11 in assault on Afghan intelligence compound

Taliban kill 11 in assault on Afghan intelligence compound

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

Rise of Kim Jong-un’s sister marks increase North Korean cyberattacks

Quiz: Can you pass a U.S. Constitution test?

New St. Andrews College president under fire after ‘we know science’ bathroom video

Quiz: Are you smarter than an 8th grader?

Not so Top Gun: Navy’s newest $13 billion supercarrier plagued by mechanical woes

SPONSORED CONTENT

How To: Fix Dark Spots And Uneven Skin Tones

Commentary

Cal Thomas

Roger Stone finds Jesus

Robert Knight

Race hustlers take ‘diversity’ scam to new levels by enforcing leftist agenda

Everett Piper

Hillsdale College stands out for its courage in face of liberal onslaught

View all

Question of the Day

Should schools re-open in the fall?

Question of the Day

 
Yes

 
No

 
Not sure

  View results

Story TOpics

Print

By RAHIM FAIEZ

Associated Press

Monday, July 13, 2020

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – Taliban insurgents launched a complex attack on an intelligence compound in northern Afghanistan on Monday that began with a suicide bombing and killed at least 11 intelligence agency personnel, officials said.

The attack took place in Aybak, the capital of the Samangan province. Sediq Azizi, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said another 63 people were wounded in the attack and the ensuing clashes.

A suicide bomber struck the compound, followed by two insurgents who opened fire. Both were killed in the gunbattle, Azizi said. The blast from the initial bombing could be heard miles (kilometers) away and damaged several nearby buildings.

TOP STORIES

Black Lives Matter leader Charles Wade charged with sex trafficking

Judge approves petition to recall Seattle mayor

Betsy DeVos: Nothing in data suggests going back to school is dangerous for kids

Abdul Khalil Musadiq, a provincial hospital chief, said many of those wounded were civilians, including children.

The Taliban claimed the attack. The insurgents have continued to regularly target Afghan security forces despite signing a peace agreement with the U.S. in February that was intended to pave the way for an end to decades of war.

On Sunday, the Taliban attacked checkpoints in the northern Kunduz province, killing at least 14 Afghan security forces, according to Esmatullah Muradi, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

The Taliban said they were behind the attacks but claimed government forces fired mortar shells in response, hitting civilian homes – a claimed dismissed by the Defense Ministry.

The Taliban and government forces have been trading blame over a recent surge in violence across Afghanistan – even as efforts continue to try and bring about the start of direct peace talks between the government and the insurgents.

President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack in Samangan and accused the Taliban of trying to strengthen their hand ahead of any negotiations.

The Taliban accuse government forces of targeting them in their homes, with their families bearing the brunt of those operations. The government says the insurgents continue to attack security forces and civilians.

___

Associated Press writer Tameem Akhgar in Kabul, Afghanistan, contributed to this report.

Russia’s foreign minister mocks intel on bounties to Taliban

Russia’s foreign minister mocks intel on bounties to Taliban

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

‘Strategic considerations’: John Roberts’ swing votes all about politics, court watchers say

Quiz: Can you pass the Declaration of Independence test?

Misguided ‘defund police’ movement undercuts effort to change culture, experts warn

Quiz: Do you remember the 2000s?

Mayflower Hotel speech drove liberal media overkill, empty Russia scandal

SPONSORED CONTENT

How To: Fix Dark Spots And Uneven Skin Tones

Commentary

Michael McKenna

President Trump can win. Here’s how.

Charles Hurt

The Unbearable Whiteness of Being … Joe Biden

Scott Walker

How to fix the U.S. debt crisis

View all

Question of the Day

Should Bubba Wallace apologize, as Trump suggested?

Question of the Day

 
Yes

 
No

 
Not sure

  View results

Story TOpics

FILE – In this Monday, Feb. 3, 2020 file photo, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrives to attend a meeting in Moscow, Russia. Russia’s top diplomat has on Friday, July 10 dismissed U.S. intelligence information alleging that Moscow has offered … more >

Print

By

Associated Press

Friday, July 10, 2020

MOSCOW (AP) – Russia’s top diplomat on Friday dismissed U.S. intelligence information alleging that Moscow offered bounties to the Taliban for killing American soldiers as a product of election year politics in Washington.

U.S. intelligence officials said information about Russia’s alleged bounties on the heads of troops in Afghanistan was included in an intelligence brief for President Donald Trump in late February. The White House has denied Trump received the information at that time, arguing that the intelligence wasn’t credible enough to bring to the president’s attention.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov dismissed the intelligence claims as a sham. The intelligence assessments that Russia offered bounties were first reported by The New York Times, then confirmed to The Associated Press by American intelligence officials and others with knowledge of the matter.

TOP STORIES

Texas A&M Police: Racist notes on student's windshield were put there by the alleged victim himself

'Tucker Carlson Tonight' writer resigns from Fox News after CNN uncovers bigoted internet posts

Kelly Loeffler blasts BLM as 'radical organization with a Marxist platform'

“There has been a hype in the United States over speculation on alleged ties between Russia and the Taliban and our alleged push on them to fight against U.S. servicemen or even a reward for their heads,” Lavrov said during a videoconference on foreign policy issues. “I can only say that the entire thing has hinged on unscrupulous speculations, and no concrete facts have been presented whatsoever.”

He charged that the intelligence claims were floated to hurt the Trump administration before the U.S. presidential election in November.

“The entire story looks like it has been written and designed specifically for the purpose of the domestic political struggle in the run-up to the election,” he said. “Once again, they’re trying to attack the incumbent administration and discredit everything it’s doing, especially on the Russian track.”

Lavrov noted that Russia welcomed a February peace deal between the U.S. and the Taliban aimed at ending the protracted war in Afghanistan.

“We have provided assistance via our channels to help this agreement work,” the Russian foreign minister said.

Top Pentagon leaders told U.S. Congress on Thursday that reports of Russia offering Taliban militants bounties for killing Americans weren’t corroborated by defense intelligence agencies, but said they are looking into it and the U.S. will respond if necessary. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that the threats were taken seriously, but haven’t yet been found credible.

Sergey Lavrov: Domestic U.S. politics causing ‘unscrupulous speculation’ of Moscow

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov: Domestic U.S. politics causing ‘unscrupulous speculation’ of Moscow

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

‘Strategic considerations’: John Roberts’ swing votes all about politics, court watchers say

Quiz: Can you pass the Declaration of Independence test?

Misguided ‘defund police’ movement undercuts effort to change culture, experts warn

Quiz: Do you remember the 2000s?

Mayflower Hotel speech drove liberal media overkill, empty Russia scandal

SPONSORED CONTENT

How To: Fix Dark Spots And Uneven Skin Tones

Commentary

Charles Hurt

The Unbearable Whiteness of Being … Joe Biden

Scott Walker

How to fix the U.S. debt crisis

Cal Thomas

Democrats want to impose socialism, and worse, on America

View all

Question of the Day

Should Bubba Wallace apologize, as Trump suggested?

Question of the Day

 
Yes

 
No

 
Not sure

  View results

Story TOpics

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov listens as Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic speaks during a joint press conference in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, June 18, 2020. Lavrov is on a two-day official visit to Serbia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic) more >

Print

By Lauren Meier

The Washington Times

Friday, July 10, 2020

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday that domestic politics within the U.S. is fueling reports that Moscow had offered bounties to Taliban soldiers to kill American troops in Afghanistan.

His comments come just one day after a top U.S. general told a congressional panel that Russia has been meddling in Afghanistan for years and has been sending weapons supplies to the Taliban.

Mr. Lavrov rejected the U.S. assertions that Moscow has placed bounties on American soldiers and instead pointed to internal politics within the Trump administration that has caused “unscrupulous speculation” of Moscow’s relationship with Taliban militants, Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.

TOP STORIES

Flynn believed he was telling the truth in interview, FBI documents reveal

Colin Powell: Trump doesn't understand U.S. history, Confederates 'were not great Americans'

NYC mayor nixes large events — except Black Lives Matter protests

Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday that the U.S. may not be doing enough to deter Russian aggression, but “there is a distinction between arming and directing.”

The four-star general said that while there is not enough direct evidence to prove that a Russian bounty program is causing U.S. casualties, “we are still looking. We’re not done. We’re going to run this thing to the ground.”

Gen. Frank McKenzie says while Russia bounty intelligence ‘wasn’t proved,’ it was ‘very worrisome’

Gen. Frank McKenzie says while Russia bounty intelligence ‘wasn’t proved,’ it was ‘very worrisome’

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

‘Strategic considerations’: John Roberts’ swing votes all about politics, court watchers say

Quiz: Can you pass the Declaration of Independence test?

Misguided ‘defund police’ movement undercuts effort to change culture, experts warn

Quiz: Do you remember the 2000s?

Mayflower Hotel speech drove liberal media overkill, empty Russia scandal

SPONSORED CONTENT

How To: Fix Dark Spots And Uneven Skin Tones

Commentary

Cal Thomas

Democrats want to impose socialism, and worse, on America

Victor Davis Hanson

Arrogance of woke students: Would-be anarchists should offend Americans

Michael McKenna

Jeff Sessions the stronger candidate in Alabama Senate race

View all

Question of the Day

Should Bubba Wallace apologize, as Trump suggested?

Question of the Day

 
Yes

 
No

 
Not sure

  View results

Story TOpics

In this April 14, 2018, file photo, then-Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth Franklin “Frank” McKenzie Jr. speaks during a media availability at the Pentagon in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File) more >

Print

By Lauren Meier

The Washington Times

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

The head of U.S. military operations in the Middle East said Tuesday that while intelligence that Russia had placed bounties on American troops in Afghanistan was cause for worry, it was not convincing enough to act immediately.

Speaking to a small group of reporters, Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, said that he has not been convinced that the deaths of any American personnel serving in the region were directly linked to Russian bounties offered to Taliban militants on U.S. soldiers.

“The intelligence case wasn’t proved to me. It was proved enough to worry me. It wasn’t proved enough that I’d take it to a court of law. That’s often true in battlefield intelligence,” he said.

TOP STORIES

Chicago mayor blames coronavirus for shootings, cracking 'ecosystem of public safety'

Susan Collins' 'toss-up' Senate race takes nasty turn under national spotlight

Ilhan Omar vows 'whole system' of U.S. economy must be gutted due to 'oppression'

He explained that intelligence often shows “troubling” indicators, “but in this case, there just wasn’t enough there.”

Gen. McKenzie’s comments mark the first time a senior Pentagon official has directly answered questions about reports that U.S. intelligence concluded months ago that Russian military intelligence agents had offered the bounties to militants linked to the Taliban.

The reports claimed President Trump was briefed on the matter and that the National Security Council held a meeting about it in late March. Mr. Trump has maintained that he was not previously briefed on the reports.

The four-star general said he has directed military intelligence officers to continue to “dig” on the reports, but at the time the intelligence emerged, he “just didn’t find that there was a causative link” to the deaths of American troops.

Four U.S. soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan this year, while 19 were killed last year.

“I’m very familiar with this material, and I’m a theater commander, and I’ve had an opportunity to look at it. I found it very worrisome,” he said, adding that his command takes “extreme force protection measures all the time in Afghanistan.”

Gen McKenzie cautioned, however, that the U.S. “should always remember, the Russians are not our friends.”

“They are not our friends in Afghanistan. And they do not wish us well,” he warned, “and we just need to remember that at all times when we evaluate that intelligence.”

Most Americans believe Russian bounty reports, half support sanctions on Moscow in response: Poll

Most Americans believe Russian bounty reports, half support sanctions on Moscow in response: Poll

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

‘Strategic considerations’: John Roberts’ swing votes all about politics, court watchers say

Quiz: Can you pass the Declaration of Independence test?

Misguided ‘defund police’ movement undercuts effort to change culture, experts warn

Quiz: Do you remember the 2000s?

Mayflower Hotel speech drove liberal media overkill, empty Russia scandal

SPONSORED CONTENT

How To: Fix Dark Spots And Uneven Skin Tones

Commentary

Victor Davis Hanson

Arrogance of woke students: Would-be anarchists should offend Americans

Andrew P. Napolitano

America’s tyrants and anarchists squeeze personal liberties in a vise

Tammy Bruce

Marxist mobs sweep into cities, call for defunding of police, tear down statues and create havoc

View all

Question of the Day

Should Bubba Wallace apologize, as Trump suggested?

Question of the Day

 
Yes

 
No

 
Not sure

  View results

Story TOpics

In this June 10, 2017, file photo provided by Operation Resolute Support, U.S. soldiers with Task Force Iron maneuver an M-777 howitzer, so it can be towed into position at Bost Airfield, Afghanistan. Moscow and Washington are intertwined in a … more >

Print

By Lauren Meier

The Washington Times

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Most Americans believe that Russia had placed bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan last year, while more than half support placing sanctions on Moscow in response, said a new Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday.

The poll, conducted Monday and Tuesday, comes in the wake of reports that U.S. intelligence concluded months ago that Russian military intelligence agents had offered the bounties to militants linked to the Taliban.

The New York Times reported President Trump was briefed on the matter and that the National Security Council held a meeting about it in late March. Mr. Trump has maintained that he was not previously briefed on the reports.

TOP STORIES

Robert De Niro's restaurant chain Nobu took 14 PPP loans

Supreme Court sides with Trump over Obamacare religious exemptions

Coronavirus 'strike teams' issue citations to 52 California businesses

The latest poll found that 60% of Americans said they believe the reports to be “very” or “somewhat” credible, while 21% said they were not and 20% were unsure.

Nearly 40% of respondents said they believe Mr. Trump “did know” about Russia’s placement of bounties on U.S. soldiers prior to the reports last month, while 26% said Mr. Trump was unaware of the targets.

More than 80% of Americans said they see Russian President Vladimir Putin as a threat to the U.S. Just 35% of respondents said they back Mr. Trump’s handling of Russia, while 52% do not.

A majority of Americans — 54% — said the U.S. should impose sanctions on Russia in response for the bounties. In the poll, 9% backed military strikes as a response, while another 9% preferred a more diplomatic route.

Lawmakers in the U.S. have said that if the reports prove to be credible, it would warrant a forceful response.

Despite repeated assertions by Mr. Trump that the reports are a “hoax,” White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said last week that national security officials took the intelligence reports seriously enough at the time to prepare options for the president, although they decided not to present Mr. Trump with unverified intelligence.

The poll collected responses from 1,114 adults across the U.S. and holds a margin of error at 3 percentage points.

US envoy forges ahead with troubled Taliban peace deal

US envoy forges ahead with troubled Taliban peace deal

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

‘Morale is lower with White officers’ in wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody

Best states for concealed carry — ranked worst to first

Grim math of the border: Media hypes ‘haunting’ deaths, ignores thousands of rescues

Quiz: Can you match the nickname to the Major League Baseball player?

Benjamin Netanyahu maintaining vow to annex West Bank land by July 1

SPONSORED CONTENT

How To: Fix Dark Spots And Uneven Skin Tones

Commentary

Michael McKenna

GOP cannot waste opportunity to address roots of ‘systemic racism’

Cheryl K. Chumley

America groans under the weight of disunity

Everett Piper

Al Gore, U.N. secretary-general and other elitists call for a ‘great reset’ of the global economy

View all

Question of the Day

Would you vote by mail if given the option?

Question of the Day

 
Yes

 
No

 
Not sure

  View results

Story TOpics

FILE – In this March 9, 2020 file photo, Washington’s peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, attends Ashraf Ghani’s inauguration ceremony at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan. According to a statement released Thursday, July 2, 2020, by the U.S. Embassy in … more >

Print

By KATHY GANNON

Associated Press

Saturday, July 4, 2020

ISLAMABAD (AP) – Washington’s envoy to Afghanistan on Saturday emphasized the economic benefits of the peace deal with the Taliban, forging ahead with an agreement that has run into new political obstacles in the U.S. and the region.

Zalmay Khalilzad was wrapping up a week-long trip that included stops in Uzbekistan, Pakistan and the Gulf state of Qatar, where Taliban negotiators are headquartered.

Accompanying Khalilzad for the first time was an economic development team led by U.S. International Development Finance Corporation Chief Executive Officer Adam Boehler.

TOP STORIES

Republican revolt: Anti-Trump insurgents choose 'country over party,' defect to Biden

Jesus as lesbian is Hollywood's next affront

Virginia orders American flag removed from construction site

Khalilzad offered no details about the kinds of economic projects being envisioned to jump-start an economy battered by widespread corruption and currently 75% funded by international donations. However, he did suggest joint economic projects involving Qatar and Pakistan, possibly on infrastructure and trade.

The U.S. signed a peace deal with the Taliban in February to end 19 years of war in Afghanistan.

Khalilzad has sought to stress the economic benefits of the peace deal throughout his tour. In a series of tweets early Saturday, the U.S. envoy said he met with the Qatar Investment Authority and the Taliban’s chief negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani, in the tiny Gulf state’s capital of Doha.

“We agreed development plans in support of peace can never start too early,” Khalilzad tweeted.

However, Washington has recently become embroiled in a controversy over intelligence reports that Russia was paying money to insurgents with links to the Taliban to kill American and NATO soldiers.

The identity of the insurgents who took the bounty money is still vague but the payments have been traced to an Afghan drug lord, Rahmatullah Azizi, who is living in Moscow, according to Afghan officials who spoke with The Associated Press.

The officials said the money was delivered through Azizi’s brother Wahidullah, who was the go-between for those facilitating the attacks on U.S. troops.

The New York Times first reported the U.S. intelligence claiming the payment of bounties as well as Azizi’s involvement.

Added to the uncertainty and delays swirling around the U.S-Taliban peace deal, the Pentagon released a report Wednesday that questioned the Taliban’s commitment to end its ties with Al-Qaida. The peace deal calls for the Taliban to fight against terrorist organizations and ensure Afghanistan would not be used again to attack U.S. interests or its allies. Critics of the deal say the militants can’t be trusted.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied contacts with Al-Qaida in the Indian subcontinent, saying the insurgents were committed to the peace deal.

Khalilzad embarked on his tour of the region last weekend, even as the rate of coronavirus infections in the United States soared and countries worldwide struggled with the dangers of re-opening.

He did not travel to Afghanistan, citing the dangers of the pandemic, and instead held videoconference calls with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his government partner, Abdullah Abdullah.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi tested positive for COVID 19, just 48 after meeting with with Khalilzad. Both had been pictured wearing masks during their meeting on Wednesday in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad

Qureshi said he developed a fever on Friday and tested positive to the virus. But he promised to “carry on” his official duties from home.

Even as Khalilzad winds up his latest diplomatic mission, there was no date for crucial intra-Afghan negotiations that bring the Taliban together with the Afghan government and other local actors. Khalilzad called for a quick resolution of outstanding issues so those negotiations could begin.

The biggest hurdle has been the release of prisoners. The peace deal called for the Afghan government to free 5,000 Taliban prisoners in exchange for the Taliban releasing 1,000 government personnel. So far, the government has freed 4,015 and the Taliban has freed 669, according to the Afghan government..

Ghani earlier this week suggested that his government had a problem with some of the names on the Taliban’s list of prisoners to be released and said alternative names would be given.

It seems unlikely that the Taliban will accept anyone not on the list agreed upon during negotiations with the U.S.

Suhail Shaheen, Taliban political spokesman in Doha, called the Afghan government reasons for delaying prisoner releases “phony excuses” and the reason for the delay in beginning intra-Afghan talks.

As of Saturday, Afghanistan had recorded 32,600 confirmed cases of coronavirus, but international non-governmental organizations say the rate is much higher and have warned that the country’s war-ravaged health care system risks collapsing.

Seemingly indicative of the lack of health care facilities in Afghanistan to deal with the virus, Ghani’s special envoy for economic development, Yosuf Ghaznafar, went to Turkey when he became ill with COVID-19. On Friday he died of the disease, according to a statement from the presidency. Ghaznafar is the senior most Afghan official to die of the virus.

Afghanistan has so far recorded 826 deaths from the virus.

_____

Associated Press writer Rahim Faiez in Kabul, Afghanistan contributed to this report.

US peace envoy looks to start of talks to end Afghan war

US peace envoy looks to start of talks to end Afghan war

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

‘Morale is lower with White officers’ in wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody

Best states for concealed carry — ranked worst to first

Grim math of the border: Media hypes ‘haunting’ deaths, ignores thousands of rescues

Quiz: Can you match the nickname to the Major League Baseball player?

Benjamin Netanyahu maintaining vow to annex West Bank land by July 1

SPONSORED CONTENT

How To: Fix Dark Spots And Uneven Skin Tones

Commentary

Scott Walker

Celebrating an exceptional country on Independence Day

Daniel N. Hoffman

Gina Haspel and CIA stream recruitment efforts

Michael McKenna

Collins is GOP’s best bet in Georgia; Loeffler should recognize that

View all

Question of the Day

Would you vote by mail if given the option?

Question of the Day

 
Yes

 
No

 
Not sure

  View results

Story TOpics

FILE – In this March 9, 2020 file photo, Washington’s peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, attends Ashraf Ghani’s inauguration ceremony at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan. According to a statement released Thursday, July 2, 2020, by the U.S. Embassy in … more >

Print

By KATHY GANNON

Associated Press

Thursday, July 2, 2020

ISLAMABAD (AP) – Washington’s peace envoy told Pakistani officials that Afghanistan’s Taliban and Kabul’s political leaders were close to starting negotiations to decide the face of a post-war Afghanistan, a crucial next step in a U.S. deal signed with the Taliban in February, according to a statement released Thursday by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad.

Zalmay Khalilzad was in the region to pave the way for intra-Afghan negotiations expected to begin sometime this month. No date had been set, but Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said late Wednesday the first round would be held in Doha, where the Taliban maintain a political office.

Both sides must still release the remainder of prisoners laid out in the deal, which calls for the Afghan government to free 5,000 Taliban and the insurgents to release 1,000 government personnel. So far, the government has freed 3,500 and the Taliban about 700.

TOP STORIES

Barr orders legal action against governors whose COVID-19 actions infringe on civil rights

Tom Hanks insults millions of 'p—y' Americans who won't wear masks: 'Shame on you'

Corey LaJoie to drive 'Trump 2020' car in NASCAR Brickyard 400

“Ambassador Khalilzad noted how close the sides are to starting intra-Afghan negotiations and the importance of resolving remaining issues quickly, underscoring the promise peace holds for regional stability and development,” the embassy statement said of his meetings in Pakistan with the army chief and foreign minister.

Earlier this week, U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to Taliban chief negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. In Monday’s video call, Pompeo “made clear the expectation for the Taliban to live up to their commitments, which include not attacking Americans,” according to the State Department.

Khalilzad’s latest foray into the region comes as the White House is embroiled in a controversy over whether Russia paid bounties to Taliban-linked militants or drug dealers close to the Taliban to kill U.S. and NATO soldiers in Afghanistan.

U.S. President Donald Trump has denied knowing about the suspected bounties. Russia has called the charges nonsense and the Taliban said they have not needed financial incentives from foreign intelligence agencies to wage war against U.S. and NATO troops.

The New York Times first reported the bounties, which were confirmed by The Associated Press. U.S. intelligence officials also said they were looking at whether bounties were involved in the deaths of U.S. soldiers in early 2019, particularly, and an April 2019 attack that killed three U.S. soldiers, as well as in so-called insider attacks in which Afghan National Army soldiers turned on their U.S. allies and killed them.

Khalilzad was appointed in September 2018 to open direct peace talks with the Taliban, however until mid- 2019 both the United States and Taliban were locked in battle as both sides sought to improve their negotiating position with military victories. The killing of a U.S. soldier in a Taliban attack on the capital Kabul in in September 2019 prompted President Trump to declare peace talks with the Taliban dead.

They restarted in December and on Feb. 29 this year the deal was signed in Doha. At the time, the agreement was touted as Afghanistan’s best chance at peace in decades of war.

Under the deal, the Taliban have committed to fighting terrorist groups, not supporting terrorist groups and ensuring Afghanistan is not used by anyone to attack the U.S. or its allies.

The Taliban also said they would not attack U.S. and NATO troops but would continue their fight against Afghan National Security Forces. One of the first items on the agenda of intra-Afghan negotiations is apparently a permanent cease-fire.

Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen said, however, that no talks will begin until all 5,000 Taliban listed in the agreement are freed. However, President Ghani on Wednesday said the government will announce on Sunday the final list of Taliban who will be released, suggesting some would not be freed and instead replaced by other prisoners.

The Taliban have said there could be no exceptions to the names on their list, which was approved by the U.S. during negotiations.

Khalilzad will hold videoconferences with Afghan leaders rather than travel to Kabul because of the dangers of the coronavirus pandemic. Afghanistan has recorded more than 32,000 infections but the real number is thought to be much higher.

Khalilzad, who was also in Uzbekistan was to also travel to Doha, where he is to meet Taliban negotiators.

______

Associated Press Writer Tameem Akhgar contributed to this report

UN says Afghan army mistakenly fired mortars that killed 23

UN says Afghan army mistakenly fired mortars that killed 23

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

‘Morale is lower with White officers’ in wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody

Best states for concealed carry — ranked worst to first

Grim math of the border: Media hypes ‘haunting’ deaths, ignores thousands of rescues

Quiz: Can you match the nickname to the Major League Baseball player?

Benjamin Netanyahu maintaining vow to annex West Bank land by July 1

SPONSORED CONTENT

How To: Fix Dark Spots And Uneven Skin Tones

Commentary

Michael McKenna

Collins is GOP’s best bet in Georgia; Loeffler should recognize that

David Keene

The cost of demonizing the police

Cal Thomas

Unpredictable John Roberts lets Supreme Court affirm abortion ideology over women’s health

View all

Question of the Day

Would you vote by mail if given the option?

Question of the Day

 
Yes

 
No

 
Not sure

  View results

Story TOpics

The body of a man who was killed during a deadly attack is moved on a gurney, in the southern Helmand province, Monday, June 29, 2020. A car bombing and mortar shells fired at a busy market in Helmand province … more >

Print

By TAMEEM AKHGAR

Associated Press

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – The U.N. mission in Afghanistan said its findings indicate the Afghan military had mistakenly fired the mortars this week at a busy market in southern Helmand province that inflicted heavy civilian casualties.

According to a statement from the office of the Helmand provincial governor, Gen. Mohammad Yasin, a car bombing and mortar shells struck the market in Sangin district on Monday, killing 23 people, including children. Both the Taliban and the Afghan military blamed each other for the attack.

A series of tweets late Tuesday from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, or UNAMA, said that “multiple credible sources” have asserted that the Afghan army fired the “mortars in response to Taliban fire, missing (the) intended target.”

TOP STORIES

Seattle council member blames 'capitalism's brutality' for deadly CHOP shooting

Joe Rogan mocks the idea of equating CHOP/CHAZ with progress: 'They beat the f— out of people'

EXCLUSIVE: Romney campaign veterans turn on Trump and GOP, back Biden

The tweet made no mention of any car bomb but it indicated that there was a battle between the Taliban and Afghan forces at the time of the attack. The U.N. did not elaborate on how its mission reached those findings.

The tweets said both parties in the war in Afghanistan “must stop fighting in civilian-populated areas” as such fighting has caused thousands of civilian casualties. UNAMA also urged the Afghan government “to set up independent investigation team for Monday’s incident” and offered its assistance.

The Afghan government has insisted there was no military activity in the Taliban-controlled area at the time of the attack. The Defense Ministry responded on Wednesday to the U.N. tweets by repeating that statement, adding that Afghan mortars cannot reach the Sangin market from their checkpoints.

Civilians are often caught in the crossfire of the fighting – even as Afghan forces say they are targeting the insurgents, not civilians, in anti-militant operations. A U.N. report in May blamed the Taliban for killing or wounding a total of 208 civilians in April and also said that operations carried out by Afghan forces had killed or wounded 172 civilians.

The attack in Helmand came as Washington’s special peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, is again touring the region to try and push the peace process forward. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a Monday video conference with the Taliban pressed the insurgents to reduce violence in Afghanistan.

There have been expectations that talks between Afghan government representatives and the Taliban could possibly start this month in Doha, Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office.

White House aware of Russian bounties in 2019: AP sources

White House aware of Russian bounties in 2019: AP sources

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

‘Morale is lower with White officers’ in wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody

Best states for concealed carry — ranked worst to first

Grim math of the border: Media hypes ‘haunting’ deaths, ignores thousands of rescues

Quiz: Can you match the nickname to the Major League Baseball player?

Benjamin Netanyahu maintaining vow to annex West Bank land by July 1

SPONSORED CONTENT

How To: Fix Dark Spots And Uneven Skin Tones

Commentary

Clifford D. May

Meet the global leadership restrainers: Making America second-rate again

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.

Oxford professor Archie Brown’s ignorant assessment of Ronald Reagan

Charles Hurt

Beware, President Trump, of the enthusiasm gap …

View all

Question of the Day

Would you vote by mail if given the option?

Question of the Day

 
Yes

 
No

 
Not sure

  View results

Story TOpics

In this Nov. 30, 2017, file photo, American soldiers wait on the tarmac in Logar province, Afghanistan. Top officials in the White House were aware in early 2019 of classified intelligence indicating Russia was secretly offering bounties to the Taliban … more >

Print

By James LaPorta

Associated Press

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Top officials in the White House were aware in early 2019 of classified intelligence indicating Russia was secretly offering bounties to the Taliban for the deaths of Americans, a full year earlier than has been previously reported, according to U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the intelligence.

The assessment was included in at least one of President Donald Trump’s written daily intelligence briefings at the time, according to the officials. Then-National Security Adviser John Bolton also told colleagues at the time that he briefed Trump on the intelligence assessment in March 2019.

The White House didn’t respond to questions about Trump or other officials’ awareness of Russia’s provocations in 2019. The White House has said Trump wasn’t — and still hasn’t been — briefed on the intelligence assessments because they haven’t been fully verified. However, it’s rare for intelligence to be confirmed without a shadow of a doubt before it is presented to top officials.

TOP STORIES

Joe Rogan mocks the idea of equating CHOP/CHAZ with progress: 'They beat the f— out of people'

Couple who pulled guns on protesters support Black Lives Matter, attorney says

Mayflower Hotel speech drove liberal media overkill, empty Russia scandal

Bolton declined to comment Monday when asked by the AP if he’d briefed Trump about the matter in 2019. On Sunday, he suggested to NBC that Trump was claiming ignorance of Russia’s provocations to justify his administration’s lack of response.

“He can disown everything if nobody ever told him about it,” Bolton said.

The revelations cast new doubt on the White House’s efforts to distance Trump from the Russian intelligence assessments. The AP reported Sunday that concerns about Russian bounties also were in a second written presidential daily briefing this year and that current national security adviser Robert O’Brien had discussed the matter with Trump. O’Brien denies doing that.

On Monday, O’Brien said that while the intelligence assessments regarding Russian bounties “have not been verified,” the administration has “been preparing should the situation warrant action.”

The administration’s earlier awareness of the Russian efforts raises additional questions about why Trump didn’t take punitive action against Moscow for efforts that put the lives of American service members at risk. Trump has sought throughout his time in office to improve relations with Russia and President Vladimir Putin, moving this year to try to reinstate Russia as part of a group of world leaders it had been kicked out of.

Officials said they didn’t consider the intelligence assessments in 2019 to be particularly urgent, given Russian meddling in Afghanistan isn’t a new occurrence. The officials with knowledge of Bolton’s apparent briefing for Trump said it contained no “actionable intelligence,” meaning the intelligence community didn’t have enough information to form a strategic plan or response. However, the classified assessment of Russian bounties was the sole purpose of the meeting.

The officials insisted on anonymity because they weren’t authorized to disclose the highly sensitive information.

The intelligence that surfaced in early 2019 indicated Russian operatives had become more aggressive in their desire to contract with the Taliban and members of the Haqqani Network, a militant group aligned with the Taliban in Afghanistan and designated a foreign terrorist organization in 2012 during the Obama administration.

The National Security Council and the undersecretary of defense for intelligence held meetings regarding the intelligence. The NSC didn’t respond to questions about the meetings.

Late Monday, the Pentagon issued a statement saying it was evaluating the intelligence but so far had “no corroborating evidence to validate the recent allegations.”

“Regardless, we always take the safety and security of our forces in Afghanistan — and around the world — most seriously and therefore continuously adopt measures to prevent harm from potential threats,” said Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman.

Concerns about Russian bounties flared anew this year after members of the elite Naval Special Warfare Development Group, known to the public as SEAL Team Six, raided a Taliban outpost and recovered roughly $500,000 in U.S. currency. The funds bolstered the suspicions of the American intelligence community that Russians had offered money to Taliban militants and linked associations.

The White House contends the president was unaware of this development, too.
The officials told the AP that career government officials developed potential options for the White House to respond to the Russian aggression in Afghanistan, which was first reported by The New York Times. However, the Trump administration has yet to authorize any action.

The intelligence in 2019 and 2020 surrounding Russian bounties was derived in part from debriefings of captured Taliban militants. Officials with knowledge of the matter told the AP that Taliban operatives from opposite ends of the country and from separate tribes offered similar accounts.

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied Russian intelligence officers had offered payments to the Taliban in exchange for targeting U.S. and coalition forces.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the Taliban’s chief negotiator, a spokesman for the insurgents said Tuesday, but it was unknown whether there was any mention during their conversation of allegations about Russian bounties. Pompeo pressed the insurgents to reduce violence in Afghanistan and discussed ways of advancing a U.S.-Taliban peace deal signed in February, the Taliban spokesman tweeted.

The U.S. is investigating whether Americans died because of the Russian bounties. Officials are focused on an April 2019 attack on an American convoy. Three U.S. Marines were killed after a car rigged with explosives detonated near their armored vehicles as they returned to Bagram Airfield, the largest U.S. military installation in Afghanistan.

The Defense Department identified them as Marine Staff Sgt. Christopher Slutman, 43, of Newark, Delaware; Sgt. Benjamin Hines, 31, of York, Pennsylvania; and Cpl. Robert Hendriks, 25, of Locust Valley, New York. They were infantrymen assigned to 2nd Battalion, 25th Marines, a reserve infantry unit headquartered out of Garden City, New York.

Hendriks’ father told the AP that even a rumor of Russian bounties should have been immediately addressed.

“If this was kind of swept under the carpet as to not make it a bigger issue with Russia, and one ounce of blood was spilled when they knew this, I lost all respect for this administration and everything,” Erik Hendriks said.

Three other service members and an Afghan contractor were wounded in the attack. As of April 2019, the attack was under a separate investigation, unrelated to the Russian bounties.

The officials who spoke to the AP also said they were looking closely at insider attacks from 2019 to determine if they were linked to Russian bounties.

___

Associated Press writers Zeke Miller and Deb Riechmann in Washington, Deepti Hajela in New York and Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.

Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. envoy to Afghanistan, not going to Kabul

Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. envoy to Afghanistan, not going to Kabul

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

‘Morale is lower with White officers’ in wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody

Best states for concealed carry — ranked worst to first

Grim math of the border: Media hypes ‘haunting’ deaths, ignores thousands of rescues

Quiz: Can you match the nickname to the Major League Baseball player?

Benjamin Netanyahu maintaining vow to annex West Bank land by July 1

SPONSORED CONTENT

How To: Fix Dark Spots And Uneven Skin Tones

Commentary

Clifford D. May

Meet the global leadership restrainers: Making America second-rate again

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.

Oxford professor Archie Brown’s ignorant assessment of Ronald Reagan

Charles Hurt

Beware, President Trump, of the enthusiasm gap …

View all

Question of the Day

Would you vote by mail if given the option?

Question of the Day

 
Yes

 
No

 
Not sure

  View results

Story TOpics

Washington’s peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad attends the inauguration ceremony for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, March 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) ** FILE ** more >

Print

By

Associated Press

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

ISLAMABAD — The U.S. peace envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, will not be going to the Afghan capital, Kabul, while in the region on his latest peace mission because of the dangers presented by the coronavirus and instead will video conference with Afghan leaders, the U.S. State Department said.

Afghanistan’s dilapidated health system is grappling with the pandemic, with the number of infections thought to far outnumber the official tally of over 31,000 cases, including 733 deaths.

Khalilzad, who was in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, on Tuesday, will be traveling to Pakistan later in the day or early Wednesday before meeting with Taliban officials in Qatar, where they have a political office.

TOP STORIES

Couple who pulled guns on protesters support Black Lives Matter, attorney says

Report: New China pig flu strain has pandemic potential

Mayflower Hotel speech drove liberal media overkill, empty Russia scandal

The coronavirus infection rate in Pakistan has been climbing steadily, with 209,336 cases recorded as of Tuesday and more than 4,300 deaths.

US report: Pakistan doing too little to counter terrorism

US report: Pakistan doing too little to counter terrorism

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

‘A fundamental challenge’: William Barr says U.S. is cracking down on Chinese spying

Quiz: Do you remember these popular TV couples?

EXCLUSIVE: U.K. assassination attempt reveals illegal Russian chemical weapons push

Best states for concealed carry — ranked worst to first

EXCLUSIVE: Trump says Biden weaker than Hillary Clinton; predicts historic economic recovery

SPONSORED CONTENT

How To: Fix Dark Spots And Uneven Skin Tones

Commentary

Everett Piper

Welcome to the neo-Marxist ‘Church of Holy Wokeness’

Charles Hurt

The Democrats’ ‘Bonfire of Inanities’

Scott Walker

Ignorant rioters take violence to Madison and leftist Democrats do nothing

View all

Question of the Day

Would you vote by mail if given the option?

Question of the Day

 
Yes

 
No

 
Not sure

  View results

Story TOpics

FILE – In this March 1, 2020 file photo, supporters of Pakistani religious group rally to celebrate the signing agreement between United States and Taliban, in Quetta, Pakistan. Washington’s annual terrorism report says Pakistan is doing too little to counter … more >

Print

By KATHY GANNON

Associated Press

Friday, June 26, 2020

ISLAMABAD (AP) – Washington’s annual terrorism report said Pakistan was doing too little to counter terrorist groups, particularly those taking aim at rival India and the dreaded Haqqani network operating in Afghanistan.

Islamabad bristled at the criticism in the U.S. State Department report, saying it has been relentless in its assistance to Washington as the United States brokered a peace deal with the Taliban, which it signed in February. At the time, the deal was touted as Afghanistan’s best chance in four decades of finding a lasting peace.

Amir Rana, executive director of the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, which tracks militant groups, said Friday the report is a warning to Pakistan that it needs to do more to target terrorist financing and dismantle terrorist networks if it wants to avoid being blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force, the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog based in Paris.

TOP STORIES

William Barr: Geoffrey Berman was an 'interim' U.S. attorney 'living on borrowed time'

Tommy Lee warns 'Trumpsters': 'We are going to pay you back so f-ing hard for all of this'

Christians should destroy all Baphomet statues

Pakistan, which was put on a so-called grey list by the task force in 2018, was given a further reprieve this month to avoid the blacklist by meeting a series of benchmarks set by the task force. If Pakistan is put on a blacklist, its international borrowing would be severely restricted.

“The tone of the report this year was more critical than the previous year’s,” said Rana. “This is a warning that it needs to do more to stay off the blacklist, to dismantle terrorist groups still operating in Pakistan.”

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry in a statement late Thursday called the report disappointing.

Pakistan has arrested some high profile terrorist group leaders, such as Hafiz Saeed, chief of the outlawed Lasjkar-e-Taiba. However, the whereabouts of others, such as Maulana Masood Azhar, the head of Jaish-e-Mohammad, is still unknown, said Rana. That group took responsibility for the devastating 2019 attack on Indian troops in Indian-ruled Kashmir.

More than a dozen Al-Qaida in the Asian Subcontinent operatives have been arrested in Pakistan’s Punjab province in recent months and this week several were sentenced to lengthy prison terms, said Rana. That would indicate Pakistan’s willingness to tackle some of the militant groups in Pakistan.

“While the Report recognizes that Al Qaeda has been seriously degraded in the region, it neglects to mention Pakistan’s crucial role in decimating Al Qaeda , thereby diminishing the threat that the terrorist group once posed to the world,” the Foreign Ministry statement said.

The State Department report called Pakistan’s help in getting a deal with the Taliban “a constructive role.”

Pakistani officials who addressed the report’s finding Friday asked not to be identified because they are not authorized to speak to the media. They said that on the one hand, the U.S. wants Pakistan to break all ties with Afghanistan’s Taliban groups, like the Haqqani network. Yet it wants Islamabad to use its influence to bring that group to the negotiating table.

Rana said it was Pakistan’s decades-old association with the Haqqani network, which dates back to the 1980s invasion of Afghanistan by the former Soviet Union, that helped move U.S. talks with the Taliban forward.

The next stage of the peace deal, which is considered crucial, is negotiations between Afghans on both sides of the conflict. Those negotiations are expected to take place sometime in July in the Middle Eastern State of Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office.

US watchdog: Afghan gov’t weakened ahead of Taliban talks

US watchdog: Afghan gov’t weakened ahead of Taliban talks

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

‘A fundamental challenge’: William Barr says U.S. is cracking down on Chinese spying

Quiz: Do you remember these popular TV couples?

EXCLUSIVE: U.K. assassination attempt reveals illegal Russian chemical weapons push

Best states for concealed carry — ranked worst to first

EXCLUSIVE: Trump says Biden weaker than Hillary Clinton; predicts historic economic recovery

SPONSORED CONTENT

How To: Fix Dark Spots And Uneven Skin Tones

Commentary

Scott Walker

Ignorant rioters take violence to Madison and leftist Democrats do nothing

Victor Davis Hanson

Anger will decide the 2020 election

Michael McKenna

Presidential election polling not broken, Trump trails Biden

View all

Question of the Day

Would you vote by mail if given the option?

Question of the Day

 
Yes

 
No

 
Not sure

  View results

Story TOpics

FILE – In this Aug. 19, 2019, file photo, a man waves an Afghan national flag during Independence Day celebrations in Kabul, Afghanistan. Washington’s watchdog warns, Thursday, June 25, 2020, that “systemic” corruption within the Afghan government is weakening its … more >

Print

By KATHY GANNON

Associated Press

Thursday, June 25, 2020

ISLAMABAD (AP) – A U.S. watchdog warned that “systemic” corruption within the Afghan government is weakening its bargaining position in upcoming peace negotiations with the Taliban, even as the insurgents said Thursday they were ready and had compiled their agenda for the long-awaited talks.

John Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, said the Taliban and other militants underscored the government’s corruption, using it to “undermine public support for the government, garner recruits to their cause, and weaken the government’s bargaining position during future peace negotiations.”

“It is the most insidious threat the Afghan government faces because it saps the support of citizens who are trying to go about their daily work, feed their families, and live free of fear and intimidation,” Sopko told a monitoring group known as Integrity Watch Afghanistan on Wednesday.

TOP STORIES

CDC: Fewer people dying in COVID-19 surge than March, April

Businesses, residents sue Seattle over CHOP

Carly Fiorina to support Joe Biden over Donald Trump

Meanwhile, about 50 civil society activists in Kabul rallied on Thursday against corruption, urging the International Monetary Fund to rescind a $220 million loan given last month to the Afghan government to help mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Afghanistan has reported over 30,000 cases, including 675 deaths, but testing is severely limited, and experts say the number of infected is likely much higher.

The protesters said the government has already wasted billions of international money. Najibullah Azad, who leads the group of lawyers, doctors and economists in the protest, said government corruption is devouring international money and thatt he feared the IMF’s $220 million would disappear.

Sopko criticized Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government, saying it only paid lip service to fighting corruption, “ticking off the boxes” rather than implementing changes and arresting some of the worst offenders.

“The private sector and particularly international investors – who care far more about their own bottom line – will not overlook Afghanistan’s failure to tackle the corruption challenge,” he said. “Afghanistan’s leaders must come to realize that in the end, private sector investment will matter far more to their country’s future than international donors, because after 19 years of war, foreign governments, including the United States, are growing weary of paying Afghanistan’s bills.”

International donors cover 75% of Afghanistan’s operating budget and the U.S. alone pays $4 billion annually to finance Afghanistan’s military and security forces.

Ghani’s spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi, objected to Sopko’s criticism, insisting that “the government has done a lot to tackle corruption and that has to be seen.”

No date has yet been set for negotiations but Deborah Lyons, the U.N. special representative to Afghanistan told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday that she was “cautiously optimistic” the talks could start in July in Doha, Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office.

One of the obstacles to the start of the negotiations has been the exchange of prisoners, envisaged under a deal the Taliban signed with the United States at the end of February. That accord – and the Afghan-Taliban talks that were meant to follow – are seen as Afghanistan’s best chance for peace and an opportunity for U.S. and NATO troops to leave the war-torn country after nearly two decades of fighting.

The Taliban’s political spokesman, Suhail Shaheen, told The Associate Press that the Afghan government has so far released 3,500 Taliban prisoners. The U.S.-Taliban deal calls for 5,000 Taliban prisoners to be freed by Kabul. It also said the Taliban should free 1,000 government personnel, including military men, they hold captive.

___

Associated Press writer Tameem Akhgar in Kabul, Afghanistan, contributed to this report.

US says its embassy in Kabul battling coronavirus outbreak

US says its embassy in Kabul battling coronavirus outbreak

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

Trump on renaming U.S. military bases honoring Confederate officers: No way!

Quiz: Can you name the actors who played these 1980s TV characters?

FBI picked most outlandish anti-Trump dossier claims for official U.S.-Russia report

Quiz: How well do you know your guns?

Summer spike? Experts warn of ‘reverse’ seasonal effect on coronavirus

SPONSORED CONTENT

How To: Fix Dark Spots And Uneven Skin Tones

Commentary

Robert Knight

Liberals attack on American culture emboldened by Supreme Court last week

Everett Piper

Supreme Court rules women are no longer real but just fantasies

Cheryl K. Chumley

Pandering to the pretensions of Black Lives Matter overlords

View all

Question of the Day

Should Trump rally-goers in Tulsa wear face masks

Question of the Day

 
Yes

 
No

 
Not sure

  View results

Story TOpics

FILE – This Dec. 25, 2013, filer, photo shows a general view of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan after it was hit by rocket fire in Kabul, Afghanistan. The U.S. State Department says Saturday, June 20, 2020 that COVID-19 … more >

Print

By RAHIM FAIEZ and MATTHEW LEE

Associated Press

Saturday, June 20, 2020

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – The U.S. State Department says COVID-19 infections have been reported at its embassy in the Afghan capital and affected staff include diplomats, contractors and locals.

The State Department did not say how many were affected. An official at the embassy in Kabul, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media, said up to 20 people were infected, the majority of them Nepalese Gurkhas, who provide embassy security.

“The embassy is implementing all appropriate measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” the State Department said in a statement late Friday.

TOP STORIES

Lawyer: Black jurors should refuse to convict black people accused of murdering white people

AOC cheers rally sabotage, mocks Trump campaign: 'You just got ROCKED'

Earthquake shakes Oklahoma after Trump's Tulsa rally

The infected staff are in isolation in the embassy while the remainder on the compound are being tested, said the embassy official. That official added that embassy staff were told they can expect tighter isolation orders.

The State Department said a sanitization of the premises was being carried out to “prevent further outbreak.”

Afghanistan has 28,424 confirmed coronavirus cases. International aid organizations monitoring the pandemic’s spread in the country say the numbers are much higher because of a lack of testing capabilities as well as access to testing.

Observers also fear the highly contagious coronavirus has spread throughout the country with the return of nearly 300,000 Afghans from Iran, the hardest hit country in the region. Iran has recorded more than 200,000 cases and 9,392 deaths.

Few of the Afghans who returned from Iran were tested before they fanned out across the country to their homes.

Earlier this month, the International Rescue Committee warned Afghanistan was on the brink of a humanitarian disaster mostly because the government does not have the capacity to even test 80% of coronavirus cases.

A handful of NATO troops have also tested positive for the infection. State

___

Lee reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Kathy Gannon in Islamabad contributed to this report

UN hits back at Trump sanctions on ICC officials over probe of U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan

UN hits back at Trump sanctions on ICC officials over probe of U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

U.S. seeks role as China, India face off at border

Quiz: Name the famous inventors of these revolutionary products

Rod Rosenstein says he was led to believe the Carter Page FISA applications were accurate

Best states for concealed carry — ranked worst to first

EXCLUSIVE: Antifa planned anti-government insurgency for months, law enforcement official says

SPONSORED CONTENT

How To: Fix Dark Spots And Uneven Skin Tones

Commentary

Everett Piper

Evangelical pastors pander to radical Black Lives Matter

Cheryl K. Chumley

Seattle anarchists and their lunatic fringe list of demands

Charles Hurt

Trump and the riot of political plagues

View all

Question of the Day

Should Confederate names be taken off U.S. military bases?

Question of the Day

 
Yes

 
No

 
Not sure

  View results

Story TOpics

In this Nov. 7, 2019, file photo, the International Criminal Court, or ICC, is seen in The Hague, Netherlands. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File) more >

Print

By Lauren Meier

The Washington Times

Friday, June 12, 2020

The United Nations on Friday hit back at a recent decision by the Trump administration to authorize sanctions against officials of the International Criminal Court over its investigation into whether U.S. troops committed war crimes in Afghanistan.

Top administration officials have said the U.S. believes Russia is behind the ICC’s actions targeting American troops for prosecution.

The ICC launched the investigation after prosecutors’ preliminary review in 2017 determined that war crimes may have been committed in Afghanistan and that the court has jurisdiction.

TOP STORIES

Four St. Louis police officers charged with beating undercover colleague

D.C. mayor sued over 'Black Lives Matter' on street to White House

NASCAR rejects advertising from gun companies, causing fans to question its 2nd Amendment stance

The executive order, signed by President Trump on Thursday, authorizes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in consultation with Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, to block assets in the U.S. of ICC employees involved in the probe. Mr. Pompeo also can block the targeted individuals from entering the U.S.

“The independence of the ICC and its ability to operate without interference must be guaranteed so that it can decide matters without any improper influence, inducement, pressures, threats or interference, direct or indirect, from any quarter or for any reasons,” Rupert Colville, spokesperson for U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said during a briefing Friday.

“Victims of gross human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law and their families have the right to redress and the truth.”

Mr. Trump has repeatedly challenged the court’s right to prosecute U.S. personnel without American consent.

The ICC, based in The Hague in the Netherlands, has seen support from European allies who on Thursday pledged “unwavering support for the court as an independent and impartial judicial institution.”

Ten nations on the U.N. Security Council that are parties to the ICC accord, including the Britain, Germany and France, issued a statement on reiterating “commitment to uphold and defend the principles and values enshrined in the [ICC accord] and to preserve its integrity undeterred by any threats against the court, its officials and those cooperating with it.”

Official: Bomb explodes in Kabul mosque, at least 4 killed

Official: Bomb explodes in Kabul mosque, at least 4 killed

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

U.S. seeks role as China, India face off at border

Quiz: Name the famous inventors of these revolutionary products

Rod Rosenstein says he was led to believe the Carter Page FISA applications were accurate

Best states for concealed carry — ranked worst to first

EXCLUSIVE: Antifa planned anti-government insurgency for months, law enforcement official says

SPONSORED CONTENT

How To: Fix Dark Spots And Uneven Skin Tones

Commentary

Charles Hurt

Trump and the riot of political plagues

Scott Walker

Black lives matter: Reform law enforcement but also defund Planned Parenthood

Ralph Z. Hallow

All the nonsense that fits, The New York Times prints

View all

Question of the Day

Should Confederate names be taken off U.S. military bases?

Question of the Day

 
Yes

 
No

 
Not sure

  View results

Story TOpics

Police block off a road near the site of a bomb attack, Friday, June 12, 2020, in Kabul, Afghanistan. A bomb exploded Friday inside a mosque in west Kabul causing deaths and injuries, an Afghan government official said. (AP Photo/Rahmat … more >

Print

By TAMEEM AKHGAR

Associated Press

Friday, June 12, 2020

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – A bomb exploded Friday inside a mosque in western Kabul, killing at least four people, including the prayer leader, and wounding eight, an Afghan government official said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said the bomb had been placed inside the mosque but had no additional details. Police cordoned off the area and helped move the wounded to ambulances and nearby hospitals.

No one took immediate responsibility but a mosque attack earlier this month was claimed by the Islamic State group’s affiliate. The Taliban issued a statement condemning the attack and calling the death of the prayer leader a “great crime.”

TOP STORIES

'Bigger than life': George Floyd known for big heart, good works, struggles with drugs, crime

Chicago pastor urges mayor to remove George Washington statue, rename park over slavery

Karl Malone, former NBA star: Black people need to 'stop looking for a handout'

Azizullah Mofleh Frotan was among the city’s more prominent prayer leaders.

Violence has spiked in recent weeks in Afghanistan, with most of the attacks claimed by the IS affiliate, headquartered in the eastern Nangarhar province. Earlier this month, IS planted explosives at a mosque in Kabul’s posh Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood, killing the prayer leader there and wounding eight others.

The United States blamed the IS affiliate for a horrific attack last month on a maternity hospital in Kabul that killed 24 people, including two infants and several new mothers. The hospital was located in the city’s Shiite-dominated area of Dasht-e-Barchi.

The IS group, which reviles Shiites as heretics, has declared war on the country’s minority Shiite Muslims, but has also attacked Sunni mosques. The mosque targeted on Friday is Sunni.

The IS affiliate also took responsibility for an attack on a bus carrying journalists in Kabul on May 30, killing two. It also claimed credit for an attack on the funeral of a warlord loyal to the government last month that killed 35 people.

Washington’s peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad was in the region earlier this week, trying to resuscitate a U.S. peace deal with the Taliban, who are expected to eventually be enlisted in the fight against the IS affiliate.

The peace deal signed in February to allow U.S. and NATO troops to leave Afghanistan includes a commitment by the Taliban to fight other militant groups and a vow that Afghanistan’s territory would not be used to attack the United States or its allies.

Washington has previously said that the Taliban have been instrumental – along with Afghanistan’s National Security and Defense Forces and U.S. air strikes – in reducing the IS’s strength in eastern Afghanistan.

___

Associated Press writer Kathy Gannon in Islamabad contributed to this report.

Donald Trump moves to sanction ICC officials over probe of U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan

Trump moves to sanction ICC officials over probe of U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

U.S. seeks role as China, India face off at border

Quiz: Name the famous inventors of these revolutionary products

Rod Rosenstein says he was led to believe the Carter Page FISA applications were accurate

Best states for concealed carry — ranked worst to first

EXCLUSIVE: Antifa planned anti-government insurgency for months, law enforcement official says

SPONSORED CONTENT

How To: Fix Dark Spots And Uneven Skin Tones

Commentary

Scott Walker

Black lives matter: Reform law enforcement but also defund Planned Parenthood

Ralph Z. Hallow

All the nonsense that fits, The New York Times prints

Andrew P. Napolitano

Don’t go to work, don’t go to church and don’t gather, unless the government approves

View all

Question of the Day

Should Confederate names be taken off U.S. military bases?

Question of the Day

 
Yes

 
No

 
Not sure

  View results

Story TOpics

President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable discussion with African-American supporters in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Wednesday, June 10, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) more >

Print

By Dave Boyer

The Washington Times

Updated: 3:38 p.m. on
Thursday, June 11, 2020

President Trump signed an executive order Thursday authorizing sanctions against officials of the International Criminal Court over its investigation into whether U.S. troops committed war crimes in Afghanistan.

Top administration officials said the U.S. believes Russia is behind the ICC’s actions targeting American troops for prosecution.

“We are concerned that foreign powers like Russia are manipulating the ICC in pursuit of their own agenda,” said Attorney General William P. Barr.

TOP STORIES

Gov. Cuomo: Pro-life, pro-gun conservatives 'have no place' in New York

Tom Arnold: Liberals should 'borrow our dad's hunting rifles' and confront Trump's 'misfit tools'

'Bigger than life': George Floyd known for big heart, good works, struggles with drugs, crime

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the ICC a “kangaroo court” and said the European body is waging “an ideological crusade against American service members” who were engaged in counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan.

“Making sure this doesn’t happen is the essence of ‘America First’ foreign policy,” Mr. Pompeo said.

The order authorizes Mr. Pompeo, in consultation with Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, to block assets in the U.S. of ICC employees involved in the probe. Mr. Pompeo also can block the targeted individuals from entering the U.S.

Mr. Pompeo said decisions on sanctions will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Defense Secretary Mike T. Esper and Mr. Pompeo said the U.S. has a much more effective system of military justice to punish wrongdoers.

“Ultimately our justice system ensures that our people are held to account under the United States Constitution, not the International Criminal Court or other overreaching inter-governmental bodies,” Mr. Esper said. “Moreover, there is no other force more disciplined and committed to compliance with the laws of war than the United States military, which has made lasting contributions to the cause of justice and accountability in armed conflict.”

The White House said the U.S. “has repeatedly rejected the International Criminal Court’s assertions of jurisdiction over United States personnel.”

“The International Criminal Court’s actions are an attack on the rights of the American people and threaten to infringe upon our national sovereignty,” said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. “The International Criminal Court was established to provide accountability for war crimes, but in practice, it has been an unaccountable and ineffective international bureaucracy that targets and threatens United States personnel as well as personnel of our allies and partners.”

The ICC decided to investigate after prosecutors’ preliminary review in 2017 determined that war crimes may have been committed in Afghanistan and that the court has jurisdiction.

The ICC is based in The Hague in the Netherlands. Mr. Trump has repeatedly challenged the court’s right to prosecute U.S. personnel without American consent.

Ten nations on the UN Security Council that are parties to the ICC accord, including the United Kingdom, Germany and France, issued a statement on Wednesday of “unwavering support for the court as an independent and impartial judicial institution.”

“We reiterate our commitment to uphold and defend the principles and values enshrined in the [ICC accord] and to preserve its integrity undeterred by any threats against the court, its officials and those cooperating with it,” their joint statement said.

Mr. Pompeo issued a warning to U.S. allies about the ICC’s reach: “Your people could be next, especially those from NATO countries who fought terrorism in Afghanistan right alongside of us.”

He said the U.S. also is “gravely concerned” about a threatened ICC investigation of Israel’s security actions in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip.

“Given Israel’s robust civilian and military legal system and strong track record of investigating and prosecuting wrongdoing by military personnel, it’s clear the ICC is only putting Israel in its crosshairs for nakedly political purposes,” Mr. Pompeo said.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, Vermont Democrat, said the announcement of sanctions “is predictable from a president whose idea of justice is to encourage the police to abuse prisoners, pardon his friends, and override the Pentagon in cases of military justice.”

He said the ICC “has successfully prosecuted some of the world’s worst war criminals, and has done so judiciously and professionally.”

“War crimes and crimes against humanity occur in all wars, just as police brutality occurs in all countries,” Mr. Leahy said. “The ICC only has jurisdiction if a government fails to prosecute violations of the laws of war by its own soldiers. The United States cannot profess to stand for accountability and refuse to be accountable itself, especially when it involves egregious crimes like torturing prisoners.”

Separate attacks kill 14 Afghan forces in Kabul, northeast

Separate attacks kill 14 Afghan forces in Kabul, northeast

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

‘Retribution’: Chinese state media calls violent U.S. protests a ‘beautiful sight’

Trump’s pending immigration decision divides small business, crackdown supporters

Quiz: Can you match the songs to these 1980s one-hit wonders?

Romanian, Polish military medical teams help U.S. with coronavirus

Best states for concealed carry — ranked worst to first

SPONSORED CONTENT

How To: Fix Dark Spots And Uneven Skin Tones

Commentary

Robert Knight

How the liberal media and ‘Looting Party’ cultivates racism and hate in America

Cheryl K. Chumley

Democrats know their time grows short

Michael McKenna

Outdoors Act puts taxpayers on the hook for federal land-buying spree

View all

Question of the Day

Was Gen. Mattis right to speak out about Trump's leadership?

Question of the Day

 
Yes

 
No

 
Not sure

  View results

Story TOpics

Print

By RAHIM FAIEZ

Associated Press

Saturday, June 6, 2020

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – Two separate militant attacks killed 14 Afghan security personnel on Saturday in the northeastern Badakhshan province and the capital of Kabul, officials said.

A roadside bomb killed 11 security force members in Badakhshan when it tore through a security vehicle responding to attacks on checkpoints in Khash district. Sanaullah Rohani, spokesman for Badakhshan’s provincial police chief, said a local commander was among the dead, and that four militants were killed in the fighting.

An hour-long gunbattle also erupted in Kabul’s Gul Dara district when insurgents attacked a police checkpoint, killing three police officers, said Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian.

TOP STORIES

MSNBC seeks $333k after defeating defamation suit filed over reporting of pro-Trump network OAN

Suspect in deputy's ambush killing is active-duty Air Force sergeant

Trump rips Democrats' calls to defund, disband police: 'I want LAW & ORDER!'

Both Afghan officials said the Taliban had carried out the attacks, although no one immediately claimed responsibility.

The Taliban on Saturday claimed an attack a day earlier that killed 10 policemen in the southern Zabul province. Afghan government officials said the Taliban ambushed an Afghan police convoy on Friday after setting off a roadside bomb.

U.S. forces had carried out two sets of airstrikes Friday against the Taliban in western and southern Afghanistan. These were the first U.S. strikes following a brief cease-fire declared by the insurgents for a major Muslim holiday last month.

Since the signing of a U.S.-Taliban peace agreement at the end of February, U.S. forces have only once before announced a strike against the Taliban, in defense of Afghan forces.

The uptick in fighting comes as U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad embarked on a new round of diplomatic trips to Qatar, Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to a U.S. State Department statement Friday.

The U.S.-Taliban agreement was signed to allow American soldiers to return home, ending America’s longest military engagement.

The deal also calls for Afghans in Kabul and the Taliban to start negotiations to decide the country’s future. Those negotiations have been delayed because of political feuding between Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani and his rival in last year’s presidential polls, Abdullah Abdullah.

___

Associated Press writer Maamoun Youssef in Cairo contributed to this report.

Bus strikes roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan; 9 killed

Bus strikes roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan; 9 killed

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

‘Retribution’: Chinese state media calls violent U.S. protests a ‘beautiful sight’

Trump’s pending immigration decision divides small business, crackdown supporters

Quiz: Can you match the songs to these 1980s one-hit wonders?

Romanian, Polish military medical teams help U.S. with coronavirus

Best states for concealed carry — ranked worst to first

SPONSORED CONTENT

How To: Fix Dark Spots And Uneven Skin Tones

Commentary

Michael McKenna

Polling shows Trump’s window for reelection is closing

Andrew P. Napolitano

America is under attack from three deadly viruses: COVID-19, hubris and racism

Tammy Bruce

The left’s poisoning of the educational infrastructure

View all

Question of the Day

Should police do more to curtail rioting?

Question of the Day

 
Yes

 
No

 
Not sure

  View results

Story TOpics

Afghan security forces arrive at the site of a bombing in a mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, June 2, 2020. Tariq Arian, spokesman for the Afghan interior ministry says the the attack has taken place inside the compound of Wazir … more >

Print

By

Associated Press

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A roadside bombing in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday killed nine passengers traveling on a bus through Kandahar province, a spokesman for the provincial governor said.

Another five passengers were wounded in the explosion, said the spokesman, Bashir Ahmadi. The passengers were all civilians traveling from one district to another when the bus hit the bomb.

He said this was the third roadside bombing since a brief cease-fire declared by the Taliban for a major Muslim holiday had ended last month. The Taliban have not claimed responsibility for any of those attacks but they did say they carried out one attack on Afghan forces since the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

TOP STORIES

Retired St. Louis police captain killed by looters

Van Jones: Forget the KKK, it's the 'white, liberal Hillary Clinton supporter' we should worry about

Three officers to be charged in Floyd's death, murder count to be increased

The truce was not officially extended but neither of the warring sides appears to want a return to an all-out fighting.

On Tuesday night, a bomb exploded inside a mosque in the Afghan capital of Kabul, killing two people, including the mosque’s prayer leader, and wounding eight others.

Also Tuesday, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a deadly roadside bombing over the weekend that hit a bus belonging to a local TV station in Kabul, killing at least seven civilians, including a woman and several children.

UN report: Afghan Taliban still maintain ties with al-Qaida

UN report: Afghan Taliban still maintain ties with al-Qaida

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

‘Retribution’: Chinese state media calls violent U.S. protests a ‘beautiful sight’

Trump’s pending immigration decision divides small business, crackdown supporters

Quiz: Can you match the songs to these 1980s one-hit wonders?

Romanian, Polish military medical teams help U.S. with coronavirus

Best states for concealed carry — ranked worst to first

SPONSORED CONTENT

How To: Fix Dark Spots And Uneven Skin Tones

Commentary

Clifford D. May

Did Chinese Communist Party intend for COVID-19 to destabilize a disunited America?

Charles Hurt

Democrats, rioters don’t care about George Floyd — they’re just using him

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.

It’s simple: A growing economy through job creation is the only cure for poverty and racism

View all

Question of the Day

Should police do more to curtail rioting?

Question of the Day

 
Yes

 
No

 
Not sure

  View results

Story TOpics

FILE – In this Feb. 29, 2020 file photo, U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, left, and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban group’s top political leader shake hands after signing a peace agreement between Taliban and U.S. officials in Doha, … more >

Print

By KATHY GANNON

Associated Press

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

ISLAMABAD (AP) – The Taliban in Afghanistan still maintain close ties with the al-Qaida terror network, despite signing a peace deal with the United States in which they committed to fight militant groups, a U.N. report released on Tuesday said.

The insurgents promptly slammed the report as “baseless and bigoted.”

The U.S.-Taliban accord, signed in Qatar’s capital of Doha at the end of February, was meant to allow for American troops to gradually leave Afghanistan after 19 years of war and pave way for intra-Afghan negotiations that would shape the country’s political future.

TOP STORIES

Joe Rogan rips social media censorship: 'When you ban James Woods, you don't just ban James Woods'

Van Jones: Forget the KKK, it's the 'white, liberal Hillary Clinton supporter' we should worry about

Archbishop slams Trump's 'baffling' visit to John Paul II shrine after Monday's chaos

Under the accord, the Taliban pledged to combat other terror groups – including al-Qaida, which they once harbored – and prevent militants from using Afghan territory to stage attacks on America.

But the details of the Taliban counter-terrorism commitment were never publicized. Zalmay Khalilzad, Washington’s peace envoy and the architect of the deal, says the secrecy is necessary to protect intelligence operations involved in enforcing it.

Khalilzad told reporters in Washington on Monday that the Taliban pledge was specific “in terms of their presence, in terms of training, in terms of recruiting, in terms of fundraising in the territory that they currently control.”

He insisted that “progress has been made and our future steps in terms of force reduction and related commitments” now depend on the Taliban delivering on their promise.

The U.N. committee behind the report said several significant al-Qaida figures were killed over the past months but a number of prominent leaders of the group, once led by Osama bin Laden, remain in Afghanistan. The report said they maintain links with the feared Haqqani network, an ally of the Taliban, and still play a significant role in Taliban operations.

Jihad, or holy war, and a shared history continue to bind the two militant groups. Several top al-Qaida leaders, such as Ayman al-Zawahri who succeeded bin Laden as the terror network’s leader, trace their involvement in Afghanistan to the 1980s war against the invading Soviet Union, when the Afghan mujahedeen, or holy warriors, were also financed by the U.S. to oust Moscow’s troops.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued an English-language statement condemning the U.N. report. The Taliban, he said, “in accordance with the Doha agreement, will not allow anyone to use the soil of Afghanistan against anyone else or maintain training camps or use our soil to fund raise against others.”

Critics of the U.S.-Taliban deal have expressed concern at its vagueness, warning it makes monitoring the insurgents’ compliance difficult.

“One of the many problems with a very flawed deal is that the demands of the Taliban on counter-terrorism are worded very vaguely,” said Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia program at the Washington-based Wilson Center. He said the deal doesn’t even mention al-Qaida by name.

“At the very least, Washington should be demanding that the Taliban cease all communication with senior al-Qaida figures,” Kugelman said.

The U.N. report, however, did note the Taliban contribution in fighting the Islamic State group’s affiliate in Afghanistan. The IS has become increasingly aggressive, carrying out horrific attacks in the capital, Kabul. The group is also believed to have been behind a brutal assault on a maternity hospital last month that killed 24, mainly young mothers and also two newborn babies.

In his Monday telephone interview with reporters, Khalilzad also said the Taliban have been an important part in the battle by U.S. and Afghan forces against IS.

“Daesh is working against peace … and they have been responsible … for some of the most dastardly attacks recently,” he said, using the Arabic name for IS.

Still, Kugelman warned against underplaying the Taliban ties to al-Qaida.

“If the U.S. simply shrugs off the Taliban’s continued ties to the very terror group that U.S. forces entered Afghanistan to eliminate nearly 19 years ago, then you’d have some really bad optics to say the least,” he said.

IS claims Afghan bus attack; civilians killed in new clashes

IS claims Afghan bus attack; civilians killed in new clashes

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

Mueller prosecutor held secret meetings targeting Paul Manafort before Russia probe: IG

Quiz: Are you a war movie expert?

‘A fair chance’: Veterans blocked from civilian jobs by patchwork of red tape

Quiz: Can you pass a pandemics, plagues and infectious diseases test?

Rebel Democrats in battleground states could be good sign for Trump

SPONSORED CONTENT

How To: Fix Dark Spots And Uneven Skin Tones

Commentary

Michael McKenna

Pelosi’s proxy voting designed to dilute power of rank-and-file lawmakers

Ralph Z. Hallow

What happens when you apologize to rioters?

Everett Piper

No politician has the right to dictate, contradict or contravene religious beliefs

View all

Question of the Day

Will you rush to eat at restaurants when they re-open?

Question of the Day

 
Yes

 
No

 
Not sure

  View results

Story TOpics

An Afghan security forces member inspects a bus carrying local TV station employees that hit a roadside bomb in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, May 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) more >

Print

By RAHIM FAIEZ

Associated Press

Sunday, May 31, 2020

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – The Islamic State group took responsibility Sunday for a deadly roadside bombing against a bus belonging to a local TV station in the Afghan capital, while renewed fighting in nearby provinces killed at least seven civilians, including a woman and several children.

In a statement on an IS-affiliated website, the group said Saturday’s attack in Kabul targeted a bus carrying employees of Khurshid TV, a station it described as “loyal to the Afghan apostate government.”

Two employees were killed and four wounded, said Marwa Amini, the Interior Ministry deputy spokeswoman. Two of the wounded were in critical condition Sunday, said Mohammad Rafi Sediqi, an official at the station.

TOP STORIES

'Two crises': Protests could fuel coronavirus resurgence, officials warn

Pelosi won't 'take the bait' on riots: 'I kind of ignore what President Trump says'

'Retribution': Chinese state media calls violent U.S. protests a 'beautiful sight'

Both the Taliban and the Islamic State are active in Kabul. IS has claimed recent attacks on civilian targets, while the Taliban has taken responsibility for attacking military targets. IS has been increasingly active in Afghanistan after suffering battlefield losses in recent months to government and U.S. forces, as well as its Taliban rivals.

Another roadside bomb exploded in Kabul on Sunday as a police patrol was passing by, wounding three civilians, said Tariq Arian, the Interior Ministry spokesman. No one immediately claimed responsibly for the blast.

The attacks come after a truce expired between the Taliban and Afghan security forces for the three-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which ended Tuesday. The Taliban have claimed only one attack since then, and neither the Taliban insurgents nor the government appear to want a return to all-out fighting.

However, renewed violence elsewhere in the country killed at least seven civilians on Saturday, officials said.

A mortar shell fired by Afghan forces killed at least four civilians when it hit a home in Maidan Wardak province, said Wahidullah Akberzia, a provincial council member. He said the Afghan convoy had come under attack from the village late Saturday and fired back, resulting in the civilian deaths, which included a woman and three children.

Local civilians protested the killings by carrying the bodies to the governor’s office on Sunday “to demand justice from the government,” Akberzia said, adding that two children had also been wounded. Maidan Wardak province borders Kabul to the west.

Separately, at least three small children were killed Saturday when a mortar shell hit their home in Parwan province, said Wahida Shahkar, a spokeswoman for the provincial governor.

Shahkar blamed the Taliban for the attack, but the Taliban denied involvement. Parwan province lies just north of the capital.

In an apparent effort to resuscitate the flagging peace agreement signed between the U.S. and Taliban in February, hundreds of Taliban prisoners were released by the government last week, and the Taliban made a reciprocal release of government personnel. The exchange of prisoners was seen as a goodwill gesture before the start of intra-Afghan negotiations between the Taliban and Kabul’s political leadership.

_____

Associated Press writer Maamoun Youssef in Cairo contributed to this report.

Official: Bomb in Afghan capital targeted TV bus, 2 dead

Official: Bomb in Afghan capital targeted TV bus, 2 dead

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

Mueller prosecutor held secret meetings targeting Paul Manafort before Russia probe: IG

Quiz: Are you a war movie expert?

‘A fair chance’: Veterans blocked from civilian jobs by patchwork of red tape

Quiz: Can you pass a pandemics, plagues and infectious diseases test?

Rebel Democrats in battleground states could be good sign for Trump

SPONSORED CONTENT

How To: Fix Dark Spots And Uneven Skin Tones

Commentary

Michael McKenna

Pelosi’s proxy voting designed to dilute power of rank-and-file lawmakers

Ralph Z. Hallow

What happens when you apologize to rioters?

Everett Piper

No politician has the right to dictate, contradict or contravene religious beliefs

View all

Question of the Day

Will you rush to eat at restaurants when they re-open?

Question of the Day

 
Yes

 
No

 
Not sure

  View results

Story TOpics

An Afghan security forces member inspects a bus carrying local TV station employees that hit a roadside bomb in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, May 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) more >

Print

By RAHIM FAIEZ

Associated Press

Saturday, May 30, 2020

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – A bus belonging to a local TV station was hit by a roadside bomb Saturday in the capital Kabul, killing two employees, said a spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry.

Four other employees were wounded in the attack, said Marwa Amini, ministry deputy spokeswoman.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the violence, but Amini said the bus from Khurshid TV was the target.

TOP STORIES

Pelosi won't 'take the bait' on riots: 'I kind of ignore what President Trump says'

Asphyxiation not the cause of George Floyd's death: Autopsy

Officer shot and killed in Oakland during George Floyd protest was black

Mohammad Rafi Sediqi, an official with Khurshid, confirmed the deaths of two employees. He said two wounded were in critical condition.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, on his Twitter account denied involvement in the attack.

The Islamic State group affiliate is also active in Kabul and has claimed responsibility for recent attacks in the capital.

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul condemned the attack and expressed condolences for the families of the victims. “Attacks on the media are attacks on Afghanistan’s freedom and progress,” the embassy said in a tweet. “We stand with free media and are working hard for a peaceful Afghanistan.”

Feroz Bashari, a government spokesman, said on Twitter that an attack on journalists is an attack on freedom of speech and open media and cannot be justified. “The Afghan government is seriously investigating this attack. Such attacks are not acceptable for the Afghan government.”

Saturday was the eighth anniversary of Khurshid TV and Radio stations, station officials said.

The attack came after a truce the Taliban and Afghan nationals security forces in effect during the three-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr ended Tuesday.

Afghanistan is among the most dangerous countries in the world for reporters. In January, the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee reported five journalists were killed in 2019. The year before, 17 journalist and media workers were killed in Afghanistan, when a total of 121 cases of violence against journalists and media workers were reported.

During an attack in April 2018, nine journalists who rushed to the scene of a suicide bombing in Kabul were killed when a second suicide bomber who waited for first responders and others to appear on the scene ignited his explosives. A 10th journalist was killed the same day, shot in eastern Khost province.

Editorial Roundup: New England

Editorial Roundup: New England

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

Mueller prosecutor held secret meetings targeting Paul Manafort before Russia probe: IG

Quiz: Are you a war movie expert?

‘A fair chance’: Veterans blocked from civilian jobs by patchwork of red tape

Quiz: Can you pass a pandemics, plagues and infectious diseases test?

Rebel Democrats in battleground states could be good sign for Trump

SPONSORED CONTENT

How To: Fix Dark Spots And Uneven Skin Tones

Commentary

Robert Knight

Liberal media takes ghoulish delight linking Trump to COVID-19 deaths

Charles Hurt

Joe Biden’s racism a Democratic Party tradition

Scott Walker

Vouchers, scholarships and tax credits will help low-income families implement school choice

View all

Question of the Day

Will you rush to eat at restaurants when they re-open?

Question of the Day

 
Yes

 
No

 
Not sure

  View results

Story TOpics

Print

By The Associated Press

Associated Press

Friday, May 29, 2020

Editorials from around New England:

CONNECTICUT

Objections welcome, but not time for rebellion

TOP STORIES

Chattanooga police chief tells officers OK with George Floyd death to turn in badges

Van Jones: Forget the KKK, it's the 'white, liberal Hillary Clinton supporter' we should worry about

Asphyxiation not the cause of George Floyd's death: Autopsy

The Stamford Advocate

May 27

As Connecticut residents have held their breaths for months – some behind masks, some not – it was inevitable that many would eventually exhale bitter frustration.

Some acts of rebellion against government mandates have taken the appropriate course. Stamford attorney Lindy Urso, who lives in Greenwich, filed a lawsuit in April that charges Gov. Ned Lamont with infringing on individual liberties by requiring residents to wear face coverings while in public spaces.

While we don’t support the lawsuit – which can only serve to consume precious state funds – Urso is following the letter of the law.

So did the owners of a New Haven bar who filed a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn Lamont’s closure of bars and restaurants.

Our concern is that others may be on the brink of less civil actions.

Bridgeport Councilwomen Eneida Martinez is calling for the largest city in the state to defy the governor’s gradual phase-in and open all of its doors to business.

Martinez isn’t simply speaking as an elected official, she has coin in the game. Under Lamont’s schedule, she has been able to operate her Latin and Soul Food Café, which is primarily a to-go restaurant. But she says her other investment, as a partner in Keystone strip club and bar, is in jeopardy.

She isn’t calling for ignorance of social distancing, but maintains her club could open with safety protocols.

While there is something surreal about the concept of strippers wearing masks and maintaining six feet from one another, Martinez is expressing an opinion that is not unique. Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun are leveraging their status as being run by sovereign nations to dismiss the governor’s advice.

Others have expressed their dissatisfaction by raising their voices in public. Protestors at some barber shops and salons around the state waved American flags and signs bearing the words “Don’t Tread on Me.” A Branford salon owner declared Lamont’s leadership a “dictatorship.”

Yes, Connecticut’s former “Still Revolutionary” tagline has taken on a different meaning in some parts.

What these cases hold in common is a desire to save livelihoods. The New Haven bar owners were clear in the lawsuit – which has been rejected by a U.S. district judge – that they could be forced out of business.

That ruling alone doesn’t bode well for Martinez’s proposal, which she made to her 19 council colleagues, Mayor Joe Ganim and the City of Bridgeport’s law department.

Many owners are on the brink of shuttering their businesses. Others already surrendered. All deserve empathy. But while Martinez is merely reflecting the voice of some constituents, Ganim, Lamont and their colleagues and peers must take care to ensure rules are followed.

As Martinez made her pitch, 166 Bridgeport residents had already died of the virus. The death toll in the state was at 3,769 Wednesday.

Elected leaders throughout Connecticut need to respect the rules. To disregard them can only lead to anarchy, which is never a cure.

Online: https://bit.ly/3djq4k0

___

MASSACHUSETTS

Trump hits new low on Twitter

The Republican of Springfield

May 29

This space doesn’t usually get into specifics related to President Trump’s Twitter antics. There are too many policy issues on which to focus. But the President’s Twitter rants accusing MSNBC host Joe Scarborough of murdering an intern when he served in Congress in 2001 are beyond anything that we have seen in the past.

While the twitter posts on Scarborough appeared six times over the last month, they have been escalating. This is what Trump posted on May 12: “When will they open a Cold Case on the Psycho Joe Scarborough matter in Florida. Did he get away with murder? Some people think so. Why did he leave Congress so quietly and quickly? Isn’t it obvious? What’s happening now? A total nut job!”

Scarborough has been a frequent critic of the president. The intern, Lori Klausutis, died of a heart condition that caused her to collapse and hit her head on a desk. The police found no evidence of foul play subsequent to her death, and Trump has introduced no new evidence.

Lori’s widower, Timothy Klausutis, recently wrote a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey asking for the tweets to be removed. Klausutis wrote: “ I’m asking you to intervene in this instance because the President of the United States has taken something that does not belong to him – the memory of my dead wife – and perverted it for perceived political gain.”

Dorsey has refused to remove the posts. At Twitter’s annual meeting on Wednesday, a shareholder asked Dorsey about removing the tweets. While Dorsey said they feel horrible about what the Klausutis family is going through, “we also believe that it’s important that people have conversations around what’s happening, especially with our global leaders, that they can push back, that they can speak truth to power, that they can share and show why this particular behavior is not right, and not just.”

Twitter’s decision not to delete the posts have merit and are understandable, but Trump’s smear campaign against Scarborough, and the subsequent pain felt by the Klausutis family, are not conversations about “what’s happening.”

Trump has continually demeaned the office of the presidency with his behavior on Twitter. Just when it is thought Trump has stooped to a new low, he continues to go lower. And all of this is happening shortly after we reached 100,000 deaths from coronavirus.

Online: https://bit.ly/2zzowEb

___

MAINE

Maine is left on its own as hunger rises

Kennebec Journal

May 29

Maine has one of the highest rates of hunger even in the best of times. It is also one of the states most vulnerable to the economic devastation caused by the coronavirus.

Yet when it comes to the food aid program created as part of the federal government’s response to the pandemic, Maine is on its own.

The state will see almost nothing from the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, in which the U.S. Department of Agriculture has hired private contractors to distribute fresh food to food banks, churches and other nonprofits.

In the first round of the $3 billion program, $1.2 billion was handed over to distributers, but just $46 million went to the Northeast region, which includes New York and New England, one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus, ProPublica reported last week.

No companies that distribute in Maine received funding, leaving the state’s already scrambling food aid organizations to fend for themselves.

The oversight doesn’t appear intentional, but a byproduct of moving quickly to get aid out – and of the decision to distribute the funds to the private contractors rather than food banks themselves. The USDA appears to have selected contractors based on the prices of their bids alone, failing to make sure that all areas of the country would be covered by someone in the program.

At least one Maine company applied. Native Maine Produce & Specialty Foods’ application was rejected, the company was told, because of a missing signature that the company maintains is on their completed application.

Meanwhile, some companies with little or no experience distributing food were awarded bids.

That leaves Maine and Alaska as the only states not served by the program.

It is a bad time for our state to be left out. Prior to the pandemic, nearly 14% of residents didn’t have reliable access to enough healthy food, the 12th-highest rate in the country.

Since then, more than 138,000 Mainers have applied for unemployment insurance, a historically high number that doesn’t even reflect the true financial losses experienced by many residents. And that’s before the true toll is felt from the loss of a regular summer tourist season, when so many businesses make the bulk of their earnings.

Good Shepherd Food Bank, the state’s largest food bank with more than 500 partners, said there has been a 35% increase in demand for aid, with the number of families served tripling in some spots. Food cupboards are seeing people they haven’t seen in a while, or previously at all.

At the same time that need is increasing, donations are way down, particularly for healthier, fresher foods. In a typical year, Good Shepherd spends about $1.5 million to buy food, in addition to all the donations it receives. However, the organization told the Press Herald it spent $1 million in one recent 10-day period. All told, the group believes it will need $6.3 million extra in funding this year to fill the gap by rising demand and fewer food donations.

The state can’t fill that massive gap on its own, even with the heroic work of food cupboards, volunteers and other supporters.

Amanda Beal, commissioner of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, has asked the USDA to reopen bids for the program so that Maine distributors can take part. If Maine’s exclusion was the result of bad luck and bureaucracy, they should have no trouble granting the request.

Hunger in Maine is bad and getting worse. If help is needed anywhere, it’s here.

Online: https://bit.ly/36MhHv8

___

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Agreement?

Nashua Telegraph

May 29

While we Americans were paying tribute to our fallen heroes during Memorial Day weekend, observant Muslims here and abroad were marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Even in Afghanistan, there was a pause in hostilities between government and Taliban forces.

It came as U.S. and Taliban negotiators continued the lengthy process of devising a pact whereby American forces are withdrawn from the country.

During the negotiations, Taliban troops have refrained from attacks on U.S. and NATO forces – but not from assaulting the Afghan government and people.

Taliban leaders are trying hard to convince U.S. negotiators that the hardline repression of the past will not be repeated. Once they are back in power, the Taliban will respect the rights of women and will be more tolerant in general, Americans are being told.

In fact, Taliban officials say, they will be an ally in our battle against terrorist organizations such as ISIS. For those who recall the reason the Taliban were ousted from power – providing a haven for Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network – such assurances may be difficult to believe.

But they simply must be the foundation of any agreement between the Taliban and the United States. Assisting terrorists in any way would be a deal-breaker. That is true now, while talks are going on, and the Taliban must be made to understand it will be an ongoing commitment. Any deviance from it after U.S. forces leave Afghanistan would bring immediate, dramatic reaction from our country.

Americans cannot act as the world’s policeman. Persuading those of other cultures to adopt our forms of government is a fool’s errand. We have learned that.

But refraining from activities intended to harm Americans is non-negotiable. Only if that is understood and accepted can a satisfactory agreement between the Taliban and the United States be reached.

Online: https://bit.ly/2TOB80L

___

VERMONT

In good hands

Times Argus

May 27

One of the opportunities that has come from the challenge of this pandemic is a renewed interest in local produce, meats and other Vermont-made products. It is a most welcome trend. The movement has farmers eager to see just how prosperous this growing season might be.

An article by Shane Rogers of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund has been circulating in recent days. Specifically, it speaks to the younger generation of farmers here. Rogers is the communications manager for VSJF.

“As it stands right now, 15% of the 6,808 farms in Vermont have a young operator’ – age 35 or below – working on the farm,” Rogers writes. “These farms steward 256,363 of the 1,193,437 farmland acres in the state and are responsible for 30% of the $781 million total market value that agriculture creates in Vermont. While the contributions of young farmers are not insignificant, there still remains 937,074 acres of land that don’t have a young operator involved in the farming of that land, with over 15% of those farmers being 75 years old or older.”

He posits a tough question: Is farming even still a viable career for a young person?

Rogers looks at the burdens that come with being a young farmer, going well beyond the high cost of farming, as well as the challenges of climate change and extreme weather events. He points to the burden of student loans, skyrocketing health care costs and child care considerations.

He maintains those are not deterrents: “Whether it’s for the love of the land and working outdoors, an affinity for animals and plants, or a belief in creating a food system that works for everyone, they’re dedicating their careers and lives to making farming work in Vermont among the ever-changing landscape of our food system,” he writes.

Rogers points to how young farmers use social media not just to market their products but to share their struggles and successes. He maintains that the younger generation of tech savvy farmers is creating a community – online as well as physically. It creates both a following and a support network – and a brain trust when it comes to troubleshooting and best practices.

Younger farmers also are pivoting to changes in the traditional business model, often dividing their operation into thirds: CSAs, farmers’ markets and wholesale production.

He points to younger farmers’ willingness in this day and age to pull from the expertise of others.

Experts are working with the younger owners to help in business planning, transfer planning, enterprise development and cash flow analysis. “Part of the job also involves not pulling any punches,” Rogers notes.

That is yielding growing success.

“(W)hether it’s for new and beginning farmers or old hands of the trade, is to identify viable entrepreneurship in the agriculture sector and help that to flourish. And when it comes to doing that, while he appreciates folks’ principles for getting into growing food in the first place, he takes a very practical approach to it all,” he writes of one young farmer’s experience.

Hurdles remain, Rogers writes. “These issues can range from an increase in land pressure for nonagriculture use that drives up prices and threatens the very working landscape that Vermont has built its brand around; to an aging Vermont farming population that are remiss to see their farms run in different ways; or such other issues such as student debt, health care, retirement savings and housing concerns,” he noted.

Similarly, Rogers notes, for young people who want to get into farming, especially those coming with backgrounds not steeped in agricultural, “the skill set needed for the career can sometimes be difficult to grow. While working on a farm is certainly the most direct way to start building a résumé in that regard, pay can be low, the work is mostly seasonal and with the general hustle and bustle of the farm, it’s difficult for farmer-owners to find time to explain the decisions they’re making to their staff.”

But it is encouraging. And to answer his question, it is viable.

“As the next generation of farmers prepares to step into the shoes of generation’s past, there are plenty of issues that still need to be resolved in order to preserve the working landscape and ensure agriculture remains a viable industry in Vermont. However, when it comes to answering whether farming can still be considered a viable career for young people in the state, there appears to be hope on the horizon.”

At a time when hope has felt remote, we should feel very good that our farms are in good, young hands.

Online: https://bit.ly/2yOpFas

___

Afghan government says Taliban attack on checkpoint kills 14

Afghan government says Taliban attack on checkpoint kills 14

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

Mueller prosecutor held secret meetings targeting Paul Manafort before Russia probe: IG

Quiz: Are you a war movie expert?

‘A fair chance’: Veterans blocked from civilian jobs by patchwork of red tape

Quiz: Can you pass a pandemics, plagues and infectious diseases test?

Rebel Democrats in battleground states could be good sign for Trump

SPONSORED CONTENT

How To: Fix Dark Spots And Uneven Skin Tones

Commentary

Robert Knight

Liberal media takes ghoulish delight linking Trump to COVID-19 deaths

Charles Hurt

Joe Biden’s racism a Democratic Party tradition

Scott Walker

Vouchers, scholarships and tax credits will help low-income families implement school choice

View all

Question of the Day

Will you rush to eat at restaurants when they re-open?

Question of the Day

 
Yes

 
No

 
Not sure

  View results

Story TOpics

FILE – In this Aug. 19, 2019, file photo, a man waves an Afghan national flag during Independence Day celebrations in Kabul, Afghanistan. Taliban fighters attacked an army checkpoint in eastern Afghanistan, killing 14 military personnel, the Defense Ministry said … more >

Print

By TAMEEM AKHGAR

Associated Press

Friday, May 29, 2020

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – Taliban fighters attacked an army checkpoint in eastern Afghanistan, killing 14 military personnel, the Defense Ministry said Friday.

The Taliban took responsibility for Thursday’s attack in Paktia province, calling it a “defensive action,” without elaborating.

Javid Faisal, spokesman for the Afghanistan national security adviser’s office, said despite sporadic clashes, a truce in effect during the three-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which ended Tuesday, would continue.

TOP STORIES

'I can breathe – thanks to the NYPD' shirts flood pro-police NYC rally

Cardi B: Looters who torched AutoZone, ransacked Target and liquor store had 'no choice'

'Glorious': Kayleigh McEnany receives praise as White House press secretary

The Taliban accused the Afghan government of carrying out an airstrike Wednesday killing several civilians. The government said the target was Taliban fighters.

Neither side appeared ready to return to all out fighting, however. “The détente that started during Eid al-Fitr continues despite reports of scattered incidents to the contrary,” Faisal said.

Meanwhile, a team of five Taliban members were in Kabul discussing the release of Taliban and Afghan government prisoners from.

The Afghan government has released 2,000 Taliban prisoners since the signing of a peace deal between the United States and the Taliban on Feb. 29 and the insurgents have freed 347 captives.

Under the peace deal, the Afghan government is to release up to 5,000 insurgents, while 1,000 Afghan soldiers and police will be freed by the Taliban. The agreement was signed to allow American soldiers to return home, ending America’s longest military engagement.

The deal also calls for Afghans in Kabul and the Taliban to start negotiations to decide the country’s future. Those negotiations have been delayed because of political feuding between Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani and his rival in last year’s presidential polls, Abdullah Abdullah. The two reached an agreement earlier this month and the release of prisoners has raised expectations that negotiations can begin.

U.S. troop drawdown in Afghanistan ahead of schedule: Report

U.S. troop drawdown in Afghanistan ahead of schedule: Report

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

Mueller prosecutor held secret meetings targeting Paul Manafort before Russia probe: IG

Quiz: Are you a war movie expert?

‘A fair chance’: Veterans blocked from civilian jobs by patchwork of red tape

Quiz: Can you pass a pandemics, plagues and infectious diseases test?

Rebel Democrats in battleground states could be good sign for Trump

SPONSORED CONTENT

How To: Fix Dark Spots And Uneven Skin Tones

Commentary

Michael McKenna

The Senate’s fate rests in Trump’s performance at the ballot box

Cal Thomas

Joe Biden’s disturbing pattern of putting down minorities

Andrew P. Napolitano

The government has no right to determine what goods, services or venues are essential

View all

Question of the Day

Will you rush to eat a restaurants when they re-open?

Question of the Day

 
Yes

 
No

 
Not sure

  View results

Story TOpics

Security forces stand guard during the first day of Eid al-Fitr during a lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, May 24, 2020. The Taliban and Afghanistan’s president announced late Saturday a three-day cease-fire … more >

Print

By Lauren Meier

The Washington Times

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The U.S. troop drawdown in Afghanistan is moving quicker than expected as American forces in the country have decreased to nearly 8,600.

The mark is well ahead of schedule, partially due to fears of the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, in the country and on military bases, U.S. and NATO officials told Reuters on the condition of anonymity.

The development comes just one day after the Afghan government moved to free hundreds of Taliban prisoners, breathing new life into hopes for substantive peace talks with the militants and ending months of infighting.

SEE ALSO: Release of Taliban prisoners breathes new life into Afghan peace talks

Under an agreement with special U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad on Feb. 29, the Taliban vowed to block ISIS and other outside terrorist groups and begin talks with Kabul in exchange for a Trump administration commitment to drawdown the 13,000 American troops to about 8,600 by midsummer and down to zero by May 2021.

But the deal was also contingent on peace negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government, which were supposed to have started quickly with a major prisoner swap as a confidence-building measure.

U.S. officials now say the goal of 8,600 could be achieved by the start of June, Reuters reported.

“Due to COVID-19 concerns, we are moving towards that planned drawdown faster than anticipated,” said a U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. They explained the Pentagon focused on removing nonessential and high-risk troops from bases across the country.

President Trump on Tuesday said there were “7,000 some-odd” American troops that remain in Afghanistan, but officials have since clarified that there are more than 8,600.

American lawmakers and experts alike have warned that a complete U.S. troop withdrawal could bring more instability to Afghanistan, which has seen war for nearly two decades. The Taliban has recently upped the number of attacks in small provinces across the country — a move that Mr. Khalilzad has said “violates the spirit” of the agreement with the U.S.

Afghan government releases hundreds of Taliban prisoners

Afghan government releases hundreds of Taliban prisoners

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

Mueller prosecutor held secret meetings targeting Paul Manafort before Russia probe: IG

Quiz: Are you a war movie expert?

‘A fair chance’: Veterans blocked from civilian jobs by patchwork of red tape

Quiz: Can you pass a pandemics, plagues and infectious diseases test?

Rebel Democrats in battleground states could be good sign for Trump

SPONSORED CONTENT

How To: Fix Dark Spots And Uneven Skin Tones

Commentary

Joseph Curl

Joe Biden gets racist; Media immediately forgive, forget

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.

The Wuhan virus mask war

Charles Hurt

Joe Biden — the perverted Magic Eight Ball that is always wrong

View all

Question of the Day

Would you undergo an elective surgery right now?

Question of the Day

 
Yes

 
No

 
Not sure

  View results

Story TOpics

Men pray after the Eid al-Fitr prayers outside a mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, May 24, 2020. The Taliban and Afghanistan’s president announced late Saturday a three-day cease-fire ahead of a major Islamic holiday that begins Sunday to mark the … more >

Print

By KATHY GANNON and TAMEEM AKHGAR

Associated Press

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – The Afghan government released hundreds of Taliban prisoners Tuesday, its single largest prisoner release since the U.S. and the Taliban signed a peace deal earlier this year that spells out an exchange of detainees between the warring sides.

The government announced it would release 900 Taliban prisoners as a three-day cease-fire with the insurgents draws to an end. The Taliban had called for the truce during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr that marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

There were expectations that the prisoner release could lead to new reductions in violence, and Taliban officials were considering an extension of the cease-fire, a senior Taliban figure confirmed to The Associated Press.

TOP STORIES

Oregon becomes first state to offer free abortions for all, including illegal aliens

500 doctors tell Trump to end the coronavirus shutdown, say it will cause more deaths

Ann Coulter turns on Trump: 'Most disloyal actual retard that has ever set foot in the Oval Office'

“If these developments, like the announcement of prisoner releases, continues, it is possible to move forward with decisions like extending the brief cease-fire and to move in a positive direction with some minor issues,” the Taliban official said.

The prisoners were being released from Bagram prison, where the U.S. still maintains a major military base north of Kabul, and from Pul-e-Charkhi prison on the eastern edge of the Afghan capital.

By late afternoon, the AP witnessed scores of men pouring out of the Bagram compound, presumably released prisoners. It wasn’t immediately possible to verify their numbers or whether they were all Taliban members. They were transported on six buses parked outside the prison.

An official at Bagram said 525 men were to be released but he spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media.

No number was given for how many prisoners would be released from Pul-e-Charkhi.

In a tweet late Tuesday, Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen in Doha said the insurgent group planned to release “a remarkable number” of government prisoners. He called the Afghan government’s release of 900 “good progress.”

The prisoner release is part of the U.S. deal with the Taliban, signed on Feb. 29, to allow for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops from Afghanistan, bringing to an end the country’s protracted war and America’s longest military involvement.

When the deal was signed, it was touted as Afghanistan’s best chance for peace after decades of war. But political feuding in Kabul and delays in prisoner exchanges have slowed the deal’s progress toward intra-Afghan negotiations, considered the second and most critical phase of the accord.

Under the deal, Kabul is to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners while the insurgents are to free 1,000 captives, mostly government officials and Afghan forces, before intra-Afghan negotiations can begin.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had welcomed the Taliban cease-fire announcement during the Muslim holiday.

Javid Faisal, a national security spokesman in Kabul, urged the Taliban to extend the cease-fire and said the government would release 900 prisoners Tuesday. That would bring to 2,000 the number of Taliban prisoners released so far under the U.S.-Taliban deal. The Taliban say they have released 240 captives.

However, the Taliban have yet to confirm whether those released so far by the government were among the 5,000 names the insurgents had given U.S. negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad, the architect of the Feb. 29 deal.

A second Taliban official told the AP that those released so far were on the Taliban list, including the uncle of Taliban chief Hibatullah Akhundzada. Key in deciding which names would appear on the list was Mullah Nooruddin Turabi, a senior figure who had recently recovered from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

Turabi was the much feared vice and virtue minister during the Taliban rule, known for beating men who were found listening to music or not attending mosque. He once slapped a Taliban commander who spoke with a woman journalist.

Both Taliban officials spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.

Many Afghans have expressed frustration at the slow and often stalled peace process. Many have known only conflict in their homeland for the past several decades.

“If both sides stop this war and sit at the negotiating table … maybe my youngest children will experience a good life, which we never experienced,” said Sayed Agha, a truck driver from eastern Logar province.

Agha, 45, was wounded in April, caught in cross-fire during a battle between the Taliban and Afghan soldiers.

“I have spent my whole life in war,” he said.

___

Gannon reported from Islamabad.

Taliban, Ghani declare three-day cease fire for Eid holiday

Taliban, Ghani declare three-day cease fire for Eid holiday

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

‘Not happy’: Trump eyes compensation from China as confrontations increase

Quiz: Are you a war movie expert?

Joe Biden bets big that suburban women won’t believe Tara Reade

Quiz: Can you pass a pandemics, plagues and infectious diseases test?

Combat vets lament military changing tobacco policy: ‘Government run amok’

SPONSORED CONTENT

How To: Fix Dark Spots And Uneven Skin Tones

Commentary

Everett Piper

Science-denying Joe Biden

Charles Hurt

Trump’s political education should make him wary

Daniel N. Hoffman

How the United States can effectively contain China

View all

Question of the Day

Would you undergo an elective surgery right now?

Question of the Day

 
Yes

 
No

 
Not sure

  View results

Story TOpics

In this March 9, 2020, file photo, Washington’s peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad attends the inauguration ceremony for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File) **FILE** more >

Print

By KATHY GANNON

Associated Press

Saturday, May 23, 2020

ISLAMABAD (AP) – The Taliban and Afghanistan’s president announced late Saturday a three-day cease-fire ahead of a major Islamic holiday that begins Sunday to mark the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.

The Taliban order, which was soon followed by an announcement via Twitter from Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announcing the government “extends the offer of peace,” comes just days after U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad was in Kabul and Doha.

Khalilzad on his trip urged both the Taliban and the Afghan government to reduce violence and move ahead with intra-Afghan negotiations, a key pillar of a U.S. peace deal with the Taliban signed in February to allow American troops to leave Afghanistan. The deal was also touted at the time as Afghanistan’s best chance for peace after nearly four decades of war.

TOP STORIES

Rebel Democrats in battleground states could be good sign for Trump

Sessions fires back at Trump: 'I did my duty & you're damn fortunate I did'

Michigan governor extends stay-at-home order through June 12

The Taliban’s cease-fire announcement follows an Eid al-Fitr message from the Taliban leader which said the insurgent group was committed to the peace deal, was not seeking to monopolize power and promised to guarantee the rights of women and men under an Islamic system.

The directive ordered Taliban fighters not to fight but also not to fraternize with Afghan national security forces. The instructions seemed intended to avoid images that circulated during the last cease-fire in 2018, also during Eid celebrations, including Taliban fighters sharing ice cream and laughing with Afghan national security force soldiers.

In instructions issued Saturday, Taliban fighters were told “not to attack the enemy in any place but if there is attack from enemy in any place then a befitting defensive response shall be given.”

The order also warned Taliban fighters against entering “enemy” territory.

Since signing the peace deal with the United States, the Taliban have not attacked U.S. and NATO troops but have staged numerous attacks against Afghan National Security forces.

The peace deal calls for the full withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops by the end of next year but only if the Taliban honor their commitment to fight against terrorist groups and guarantee that Afghanistan cannot be used as a staging ground of attacks against the United States and its allies. The agreement also calls for talks between Taliban and the often-bickering political leadership in Kabul to decide the future of a post-war Afghanistan. It also calls for the release of prisoners by both the government and Taliban as a good will gesture ahead of the talks.

An increase in attacks claimed by the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan, including a horrific attack on a maternity hospital in the Afghan capital last week, blamed on the IS affiliate, has given an urgency to finding a settlement between the government and Taliban. U.S. Department of Defense officials speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media, said the Taliban is seen as an asset in the fight against IS in Afghanistan.

The U.S. military in Afghanistan welcomed the cease-fire announcement saying “we reiterate our call for the militaries of all sides to reduce violence to allow the peace process to take hold.”