New footage adds weight to previous suggestions made by Afghan and US officials that Moscow is helping fuel renewed insurgent offensive
The Russian government may be providing Taliban militants in Afghanistan with sophisticated weaponry to assist in its fight against the US-backed government, it has emerged.
New photos and video footage obtained by CNN shows insurgents armed with sniper rifles, heavy machine guns and Kalashnikov-type guns which weapons experts who looked at the video said had been stripped of any symbols or insignia which could identify their origin.
In one video, a fighter wearing a mask says he received the arms for free from over the border in Tajikistan.
“The Taliban abducted 70 people from their houses in a village along the Kandahar-Tarinkot highway, Friday. They killed seven of them today,” Abdul Raziq, the head of Kandahar provincial police, told AFP news agency on Saturday.
“Their bodies were found by villagers this [Saturday] morning,” Raziq added. “They released 30 and are still keeping around 30 others.”
The motive of kidnappings is unclear. Islamist militants usually abduct government officials and security personnel for ransom or to bargain for the release of detained jihadis.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters, “The significance is you kill a leader of one of these groups and it sets them back … it is obviously a victory on our side in terms of setting them back, it is the right direction.”
The trio known in foreign policy circles as the adults of the Trump administration wants the president to send more American soldiers into Afghanistan. Defense Secretary James Mattis, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are advocating for yet another troop increase less than three years after the U.S. officially transferred all security responsibility to the Afghans. But it’s Steve Bannon, the White House’s controversial chief political strategist, whom President Trump should listen to before dispatching his advisers to brief Congress on the strategy in mid-July.
As commander-in-chief Trump has granted the U.S. military tremendous latitude to resource operations as it sees fit. So Trump may not be inclined to overrule the Pentagon’s recommendation for 3,000 to 5,000 more American trainers and advisers to support the 8,500 troops. It seems clear, though, that the administration is divided over the decision – and Steve Bannon is the most influential adviser in the White House urging Trump to think twice before deploying those forces. In fact, Bannon may be the only aide among the non-interventionist camp in the White House, which also includes senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, who has sufficient access to the president to persuade him to carefully review the military’s request before approving it.
In this case, Bannon, who was removed from the National Security Council in April, is right.
Afghan police have arrested members of a human trafficking ring they say kidnapped 25 children and tried to smuggle them into Pakistan, where they were to be trained as suicide bombers for the Afghan Taliban.
At least one of the children who was to be trained as a suicide bomber was 4, a regional governor said, and they may have been drugged as well.
A car bomb explosion outside a bank in the Afghan city of Lashkar Gah has killed dozens of civilians and soldiers who were waiting at a bank to collect their pay.
The Helmand governor’s office said that at least 26 people had died and more than 50 wounded in the Thursday attack, where people were queuing for wages ahead of the Eid al-Fitr celebration, which begins on Friday.
Islamic State fighters have moved to capture a giant cave stronghold from the Taliban that was once Osama bin Laden’s hideout back in the early 2000s, Afghan officials have said. The complex, called Tora Bora, still has strategic and symbolic importance.
Islamic State claims its militants have already captured Tora Bora, AP reported. An audio message broadcast on the jihadists’ Radio Khilafat late on Wednesday claimed that the battle is over.
KABUL, Afghanistan — An Afghan official says that two U.S. soldiers have been killed after an Afghan army solider opened fire on them in eastern Afghanistan.
Attahullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor in Nangarhar province, said Saturday that two other U.S. soldiers are wounded in the attack, which took place in the Achin district. He said the Afghan soldier was killed after the attack.
The Afghan government is funding schools and hospitals run by the Taliban as the militant group seeks to establish itself as a legitimate administration in large swathes of the country, a new film has found.
A report by a BBC team granted rare access to the group’s stronghold in Helmand province found the Taliban has been forced to present itself as somewhat modernised since Afghans have grown used to government services and a different way of life after the group was ousted from official power.
The Taliban has grown in confidence three years since Western troops withdrew from the country.