The Slatest

Taliban Launches Dozens of Attacks in Afghanistan After Striking Deal With U.S. to Withdraw Troops

Afghan Taliban militants and villagers stand holding rifles and flags.
Afghan Taliban militants and villagers celebrate the signing of the U.S. troop withdrawal agreement.
Noorullah Shirzada/Getty Images

The U.S. carried out an airstrike in Afghanistan on Wednesday in response to a surge in Taliban violence just days after the two sides struck a deal Saturday on American troop withdrawal. After a period of calm leading up to the deal, the Afghan government said the Taliban subsequently launched 76 attacks across 24 provinces (of 34) prompting the U.S. to bomb Taliban fighters in Helmand, the first American airstrike in 11 days. “Taliban leadership promised the (international) community they would reduce violence and not increase attacks,” Col. Sonny Leggett, a spokesman for the U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in a tweet. “We call on the Taliban to stop needless attacks and uphold their commitments.”

The deadliest Taliban attack since the deal came Wednesday when fighters attacked Afghan Army outposts in Kunduz killing at least 15 Afghan soldiers. The attack was carried out by the Taliban’s elite Red Unit just hours after President Donald Trump and Taliban chief negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar spoke on the phone. “We’ve agreed there’s no violence,” Trump said after the call. “We don’t want violence.” But since the signing, the Taliban “decided on Monday to resume normal operations against Afghan forces, though sources have said they would continue to hold back on attacks on foreign forces,” Reuters reports. “The Taliban has so far declined to confirm or deny responsibility for any of the attacks and did not immediately respond to request for comment on the airstrike.”

That’s not exactly a promising start to the new arrangement that would see U.S. and coalition troops leave the country over the next 14 months provided the Taliban lives up to prescribed security guarantees. “As a confidence-building measure, the United States conditioned the finalizing of the deal on a week of reduced violence in the days leading up to the signing [and] [t]he violence levels dropped to the lowest in years,” the New York Times reports. “American officials gave the impression that such a reduction would continue after the signing.”