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On November 10, the Taliban captured three checkpoints and a military position in the district of Qadis of the northern province of Badghis following fierce clashes with Afghan government forces.

Voice of Jihad, the official news agency of the Taliban, claimed that eleven personnel of the Afghan National Police (ANP) were killed and fifteen others were injured as result of the attack. An armored vehicle and a pickup truck were also destroyed by Taliban fighters.

Abdul Aziz Big, head of Badghis provincial consul, confirmed to the Chinese Xinhua News Agency that the Taliban had managed to storm several checkpoints in Qadis. However, Big said that the ANP had killed twelve of the attackers and lost only three of its personnel.

A day earlier, the Taliban captured a checkpoint in the district of Ab Kamari in Badghis during a similar attack. 20 personnel of Afghan government forces were reported killed and injured.

These attacks are clearly aimed at expanding the Taliban control in northern Afghanistan. This could allow the Afghan group to establish new supply routes between its positions in the eastern and western parts of the war torn country.


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On there was an article reposted from Fort Russ: Lavrov: ISIS is attempting to turn Afghanistan into its base of operations in Central Asia
The terrorist group ISIS is trying to turn Afghanistan into its outpost in Central Asia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at the opening of the conference dedicated to Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan, there is a clash between government forces and the radical Taliban movement. Terrorist groups connected with Daesh also have some influence in the country. Large-scale operations are carried out throughout Afghanistan to combat extremists.
The rise of Daesh in Afghanistan fits with an underlying US policy of creating, supporting and controlling chaos, as described in Thierry Meyssan: Chaos, control and the Middle East peace process


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On there was an article reposted from Fort Russ: Lavrov: ISIS is attempting to turn Afghanistan into its base of operations in Central Asia

The rise of Daesh in Afghanistan fits with an underlying US policy of creating, supporting and controlling chaos, as described in Thierry Meyssan: Chaos, control and the Middle East peace process
I tend to notice, Lavrov is very selective with the words he uses in any statement and the words, themselves, carry a lot of weight. In his statement, "ISIS is attempting to turn Afghanistan into its base of operations in Central Asia" - basically, I see this statement as pointing to the reason - the Pentagon/US/NATO have been occupying Afghanistan for 17-18 years - as a base of operations in Central Asia.
The word, "attempting" is just a diplomatic jester in stating "the truth".

2018-11-07 - Russia concerned Al-Qaeda, Daesh may eventually merge
Russia concerned Al-Qaeda, Daesh may eventually merge

Terrorists are extending their tentacles to safer regions around the globe, after having suffered great losses, FSB chief Alexander Bortnikov said at the 17th Meeting of Heads of Special Services, Security and Law Enforcement Agencies from FSB partner states.

“At the moment, the militants have been smoked out of most of their bases in populated localities. They have suffered heavy losses in resources and have been forced to change their tactics, so they are looking for new opportunities, avenues and methods to continue their murderous activities. Having abandoned the strategy of military incursion and occupation of the areas, the chieftains of the Islamic State (IS), Jabhat al-Nusra terror groups and other affiliated structures have placed their bets on expanding into states that were previously safe from terrorism,” Bortnikov emphasized.

The FSB chief added that intelligence services were tracking the movements of militants disguised as refugees and migrant workers into other countries throughout Europe, North Africa and Southeast Asia.

“Some of these cut-throats are heading towards the northern provinces of Afghanistan, raising the threat of an armed infiltration by them into Central Asia,” Bortnikov noted.

Russia’s Supreme Court declared the Islamic State (IS) and Jabhat al-Nusra to be terrorist organizations on December 29, 2014, thereby outlawing them in Russia.


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November 12, 2018 - Suicide bomber kills six near Police Checkpoint in Afghan Capital
Suicide bomber kills six near police checkpoint in Afghan capital | Reuters

A suicide bomber blew himself up in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Monday, killing at least six people near a police checkpoint, including policemen, officials said, but no militant group has yet claimed responsibility.

Six people were killed in the explosion, said Najib Danish, a spokesman for the interior ministry. Ten policemen and civilians, including women, were injured in the blast.

The attacker on foot detonated his suicide vest close to the checkpoint near a school in central Kabul, which is in the same area as the finance and justice ministries and close to the presidential palace.

Police spokesman Basir Mujahid said he was about 20 m (66 ft) away from the blast, near where a demonstration had broken up some 30 minutes before.

“I took four bodies away but there were more on the ground,” he said, without giving further details.

The attack came as hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Kabul to protest against the government’s failure to prevent attacks by Taliban militants in two provinces.

Afghan security forces suffered scores of casualties in heavy fighting at the weekend with Taliban militants in the provinces of Ghazni and Herat, officials have said.

November 12, 2018 - Islamic State claims explosion in Kabul
Islamic State claims explosion in Kabul | Reuters

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for Monday’s explosion in the Afghan capital, Kabul, according to the group’s news agency, Amaq.

A suicide bomber blew himself up near a police checkpoint, killing at least six people, including policemen.

November 12, 2018 - Afghan Elite Commandos among scores of casualties in heavy fighting
Afghan elite commandos among scores of casualties in heavy fighting | Reuters

Dozens of elite commandos were among the casualties suffered by Afghan security forces as the Taliban claimed to have taken a district in Ghazni province, stepping up battlefield pressure while seeking a political settlement with the United States.

Officials said about 25 Afghan commandos were killed in central Ghazni, where the Taliban have been battling militia from the mainly Shi’ite Hazara community in the districts of Malistan and Jaghori, a conflict colored by hostility between ethnic Hazaras and Pashtuns.

U.S. forces were providing assistance, including intelligence and close air support, a spokeswoman from U.S. military headquarters in Kabul said.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said Malistan had fallen but local security officials said fighting continued close to the district center.

“Fresh troops have been sent to Malistan and Jaghori but the people are also cooperating and have stood up against the insurgents,” Army General Chief of Staff, Mohammad Sharif Yaftali, told reporters.

Some commandos had been killed or wounded, he added, but gave no details. However security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the commandos had been rushed in to unfamiliar territory and ambushed by Taliban fighters, many of whom now regularly use night vision equipment.


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Mon Nov 12, 2018 - Kremlin: US Special Adviser to Afghanistan Plans Moscow Trip as Taliban Gains Ground

After years of struggle against the Taliban in Afghanistan, US special advisor Zalmay Khalilzad is planning to visit Russia to discuss a peace settlement, his Russian counterpart Zamir Kabulov said on Monday.

I’ve known Khalilzad for a long time. We’ll meet again – he is planning to visit us,” Kabulov told reporters, adding that the parties may discuss the launch of direct talks between the US-backed government in Kabul and the Taliban if Khalilzad is “ready to do it”, RT reported.

The Russian official stressed that Moscow supports the “regionalist approach” to a peace settlement in the war-torn nation and doesn’t seek competition with the US in Afghanistan, but at the same time can’t just stand by and “idly observe” the ongoing deterioration of the situation on the ground.

A Taliban delegation recently flew to Moscow to hold separate discussions on the ways to end the conflict in the country.

In recent years, US officials became more receptive to the idea of direct peace talks with the Taliban.

“This is not going to be won militarily. This is going to a political solution,” General Austin S. Miller, who lead the NATO mission in Afghanistan, admitted last week. Khalilzad, meanwhile, reportedly met with Taliban officials in Qatar last month.

Despite the US’ decade-long efforts to quell the militants, Afghanistan has seen an upsurge in Taliban activity in recent years. The US government’s own estimates indicate that the Washington-backed government in Kabul has uncontested control of just over 57 percent of the country, while a recent BBC study revealed that the jihadists are “openly active” in about 70 percent of the nation.

Heroin production has skyrocketed, and frequent terror attacks continue to claim the lives of Afghan servicemen and civilians.

Tue Nov 13, 2018 - Report: US Mulls Asking for Delay in Afghan Elections to Help Jolt Taliban Talks

The Donald Trump administration is considering asking the Afghan government to hold off on its upcoming presidential elections to allow Washington to attempt to end the 17-year war against the Taliban, The Wall Street Journal reported.

People briefed on the discussions told the Wall Street Journal that pressing for a delay to the elections, currently set for April, is one of several options US officials are considering.

US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad was reported to have raised the idea, but the move is seen as contradictory with DC’s long-promoted rhetoric of a free democracy in Afghanistan.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who will seek a second five-year term in the vote, has already opposed the idea.

“Based on the free election, complete inclusive election, people will decide on their future leadership,” Ghani said last week.

The Taliban so far has refused to negotiate with Ghani, who has offered to start talks with the terrorist group without preconditions.

The United States asking Afghanistan to postpone elections would potentially cause a rift between the two countries. Kabul relies on Washington for financial and military support, giving the US significant influence, but Afghan leaders would make the ultimate decision.

The Trump administration hopes a suspension could finally bring about peace talks with the Taliban, which officials fear could be stalled by the political turmoil that often occurs around Afghan elections.

President Trump has long grumbled over America’s continued presence in Afghanistan, threatening to pull soldiers out before reluctantly announcing a new strategy in August 2017. The strategy increased US troop levels by several thousand, to a force of roughly 14,000, but so far has not produced the results the administration wanted.

The administration earlier this year began direct talks with the Taliban as Trump’s plan has floundered.

The US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) recently found that the Afghan government only controls about 55 percent of the country's districts. The percentage is the lowest recorded since SIGAR began tracking it in 2015.

Khalilzad has reportedly said that he probably has six to 12 months to come up with a new solution to end the war.

He is set to meet next week with Taliban leaders in Doha, Qatar, and may also speak with members in Dubai, according to the Journal.

Mon Nov 12, 2018 - Afghanistan Deploys More Forces to Ghazni to Contain Taliban as Kabul Hit by Suicide Attack

The Afghan government sent additional forces to the Hazara-populated areas of Southeastern Ghazni Province, which has been under attack by the Taliban militant group for several days.

The troops, including special forces, were deployed on Monday to the Jaghori and Malistan districts of Ghazni, where fighters with the local Shia Hazara community are helping government forces in their battle against the Taliban militants, Asia News reported.

We have sent more reinforcements to Jaghori and Malistan districts,” including 40 intelligence officers and 35 members of the security forces, Afghan Army chief of staff General Mohammad Sharif Yaftali said.

“As part of a bigger plan, we are also sending more ground forces and will soon start a big operation in Ghazni,” he added.

The deployment took place after the Taliban inflicted heavy casualties on Afghan forces during heavy clashes in Ghazni and the western regions of the country, according to officials.

About 25 Afghan commandos were reportedly killed by the Taliban in Ghazni late on Sunday, while 50 security forces lost their lives in similar clashes in Farah Province.

Yaftali confirmed to reporters that Afghan forces had suffered casualties, without giving more details.

Ghazni – which was briefly overrun by the Taliban in August – is strategically important as it is located on a highway connecting the capital Kabul to the major southern city of Kandahar. It is also a gateway into the mountainous central province of Hazarajat, also home mainly to Shia Hazara people.

The stepped-up violence in Ghazni prompted protests in Kabul late Sunday and on Monday morning, when hundreds of Shia Hazaras took to the streets demanding better security in the troubled region.

As the demonstration was underway on Monday, a bomb attack hit a security checkpoint near the site of the rally in central Kabul, an area that also hosts the finance and justice ministries and is close to the presidential palace.

The blast has occurred near Pashtunistan Square in Kabul’s city centre, the TOLO news broadcaster reported on Monday, adding that it was allegedly carried out by a suicide bomber.

Following the explosion, an Interior Ministry Spokesman told the 1TV that there are casualties, but the exact number of the casualties is currently unknown. According to the Pajhwok news agency, 8 were killed and 6 more wounded in the explosion.

According to the broadcaster 1TV, the Daesh terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Wed Nov 14, 2018 - Taliban Commander among 32 Killed, Wounded in Faryab Clashes, Airstrikes

At least thirty two militants including a local commander of the Taliban were killed or wounded during the clashes and airstrikes in northern Faryab province of Afghanistan.

The 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan Military in the North in a statement said clashes broke out between the security forces and Taliban militants in Kalik village of Qaisar district, leaving at least 18 militants dead, including one of their local commanders Mullah Khal Mirza,

The statement further added that the security forces also received air support and as a result at least 14 militants also sustained injuries.

According 209th Shaheen Corps, at least five vehicles and fifteen various types of weapons of the militants were also destroyed during the clashes and airstrikes.

Faryab is among the relatively volatile provinces in North of Afghanistan where the Taliban militants and other groups are actively operating in some of its districts and often carry out terrorist related activities.


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On November 14, Taliban fighters stormed a military base and a checkpoint of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan National Police (ANP) in the district of Qalay-I-Zal in the northern province of Kunduz.

According to the Taliban official news agency, Voice of Jihad, 26 personnel of the ANA and the ANP were killed and many others were injured in the attack. An armored vehicle was also destroyed by the Afghan group’s fighters.

The Taliban said that the attack in Qalay-I-Zal was a part of its spring offensive, codenamed “Operation al-Khandagh”, which was launched on April 25 in response to Washington’s decision to increase the US military presence in Afghanistan.

Last week, 11 Afghan policemen were supposedly killed in a similar attack by the Taliban in the northern province of Badghis. These attacks are a part of the Afghan group’s plan to expand its control in the northern part of the war torn country.


The Taliban continues its advance on positions of the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police across the country. The most intense clashes are currently ongoing in northern and central Afghanistan. According to reports from variou ssources, over 80 pro-government fighters died in clashes with the Taliban during the past 48 hours.



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On November 15, the Taliban launched a surprise attack on a key center of the Afghan National Police (ANP) in the district of Pusht Rod in the western province of Farah as a part of its spring offensive, codenamed “Operation al-Khandagh.”

“The center was completely overrun, killing 35 policemen including commander Khaksar and commander Jabbar, arresting 2 others and destroying a tank and 5 ranger pickups,” a press release by the Taliban news agency, Voice of Jihad, reads.​

Members of Farah provincial council confirmed to the Afghan TOLO News TV that 40 personnel of the ANP were killed in an attack by the Taliban. The local officials also revealed that 60 other policemen have surrendered to the Afghan group.

Last May, Afghan government forces, backed by the NATO, repelled a large-scale attack of the Taliban on the capital of Farah. However, the government has not done much to counter the growing influence of the Afghan group in the province, since then.


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On November 16, Taliban fighters stormed two checkpoints of the Afghan National Army (ANA) around the capital of the central province of Ghazni, according to the Afghan group news agency, Voice of Jihad.

The Taliban claimed that its fighters killed more than eleven Afghan soldiers and injured nine others in the course of the attack. Several light weapons were also captured.

Meanwhile, Col. Fazul Khuda Ibrahimkhail, a spokesman for the ANA, told the Afghan Bakhta News Agency (BNA) that the army and the Afghan Air Force attacked several positions of the Taliban in the districts of Andar and Qara Bagh in Ghazni. As a result, more than 20 fighters of the Afghan group were killed.

Despite Afghan government forces’ efforts, the Taliban is still capable of conducting successful attacks in central Afghanistan. The Afghan group is likely attempting to establish full control of some vital highways in the region, especially the ones leading to the capital, Kabul.


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November 16, 2018 - US Peace Envoy seeks to reassure Kabul it won't be blocked from talks
U.S. peace envoy seeks to reassure Kabul it won't be blocked from talks | Reuters

Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani (R) and U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, (L) meet in Kabul, Afghanistan November 10, 2018. Picture taken November 10, 2018. Presidential Palace/Handout via REUTERS

The U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan is trying to reassure the U.S.-backed government in Kabul that it will not be shut out of a peace process with the Taliban, after it complained of being side-lined from talks, officials said on Friday.

The U.S. envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, wants representatives of Afghan society to join talks aimed at ending the 17-year war between the Western-backed government and the Islamist Taliban, who were ousted from power by U.S.-led forces in 2001.

Khalilzad, an Afghan-born U.S. diplomat, met Taliban leaders in Qatar last month to try to push talks forward but the Taliban have long rejected direct talks with the elected government, led by President Ashraf Ghani.

“Ghani and many Afghan politicians felt that the U.S. was shutting them out of the peace talks,” said a close aide to Ghani.

“Khalilzad cleared the differences by meeting top Afghan politicians, civil society members and women to prove that U.S. will not isolate Afghans during next round of peace talks,” he said.

Ghani’s office declined to comment.

The Taliban are fighting to expel foreign forces and defeat the Western-backed government.

The United States has for years resisted getting involved in direct talks with the militants, saying the process must be “Afghan-owned and Afghan-led”.

The Taliban last month presented demands to Khalilzad that included a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and the release of senior Taliban from jails in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In October, Pakistan released one of the co-founders of the Taliban and another high-ranking commander.

No date has been announced for another round of talks but the Taliban have stepped up their attacks on government forces, inflicting hundreds of casualties over recent weeks in assaults in different parts of the country.

A senior government official in Kabul said Khalilzad wanted Afghan society represented in talks.

“Ambassador Khalilzad met men and women from all walks of the Afghan society to bring them together as a stakeholder in talks with the Taliban,” the government official said.

The emphasis on “Afghan society” appeared aimed at persuading the Taliban to accept an Afghan delegation that does not officially represent the government.

Two Taliban officials in Afghanistan said they would continue engagement with Khalilzad, but would not say if their leaders would accept an Afghan delegation.

“We’re watching every diplomatic move of the U.S. officials. We’ll continue our fight until the U.S. accepts our demands,” said Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman.

Fri Nov 16, 2018 - NSC Orders Afghan Forces to Increase Raids against Taliban

The Office of the National Security Council of Afghanistan (NSC) has ordered the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) to increase raids against the Taliban militants.

According to a statement released by NSC, the enemies of the country have sustained heavy casualties in face to face fight and due to the sacrifices of the National Defense and Security Forces due to which the enemies have changed their fighting strategy by killing innocent civilians, a move which demonstrate their (enemies) weakness, Khaama Press reported.

The statement further added that the Taliban group continues to wage an imposed war as the Afghan nation struggles with the drought and cold weather which has added in the difficulties of the people besides inflicting losses on them.

The Office of the National Security Council also added that the National Defense and Security Forces have been instructed to increase raids against the Taliban across the country in a bid to ensure the safety of the people and reduce the casualties of the security forces.

This comes as the Taliban militants have increased their insurgency across the country which has claimed the lives of several innocent civilians besides inflicting heavy casualties on security forces.

Sat Nov 17, 2018 - NDS Special Forces Conduct Raids on 5 ISIL's Compounds in Nangarhar

The Special Forces of the Afghan Intelligence, National Directorate of Security (NDS), conducted raids on five compounds of the ISIL in Eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The provincial government media office in a statement said the raids were conducted in Achin district, Khaama Press reported.

The statement further added at least 20 ISIL militants were killed during the raids and all five compounds of the terror group were destroyed.

According to Nangarhar governor’s office, a commander of the terror group and orchestrator of ISIL attacks was also among those killed.

The militants were involved in planning and coordinating attacks in Jalalabad city and other parts of Nangarhar province using the five compounds which were destroyed during the operation.

The NDS Special Forces and local residents did not suffer casualties during the operations, the provincial government added in its statement.


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November 19, 2018 - Taliban say No Pact struck with US over Deadline to End Afghan War
Taliban say no pact struck with U.S. over deadline to end Afghan war | Reuters

U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, talks with local reporters at the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan November 18, 2018. U.S embassy/Handout via Reuters

A three-day meeting between the Taliban and the U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan to pave the way for peace talks ended with no agreement, the militant group said a day after the diplomat declared a deadline of April 2019 to end a 17-year-long war.

Afghanistan’s security situation has worsened since NATO formally ended combat operations in 2014, as Taliban insurgents battle to reimpose strict Islamic law following their overthrow in 2001 at the hands of U.S.-led troops.

Leaders of the hardline Islamist group met U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad at their political headquarters in Qatar last week for the second time in the past month, said spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid.

“These were preliminary talks and no agreement was reached on any issue,” he said in a statement on Monday.

Taliban leaders had not accepted any deadline set by the U.S. to wrap up talks, three Taliban officials added.

The U.S embassy in Kabul declined to comment.

Khalilzad, an Afghan-born US diplomat authorized by U.S. President Donald Trump’s government to lead peace negotiations with the Taliban, on Sunday said he hoped to cut a peace deal with the group by April 20.

That deadline coincides with the date set for presidential elections in Afghanistan.

Two senior U.S. officials confirmed that the second round of peace talks ended last week and the Taliban expected Khalilzad to visit Qatar for a meeting before the end of 2018.

“The second round of talks went on for three days. This clearly proves that both sides are exercising patience and caution during their diplomatic engagement,” a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity.

But Khalilzad’s public statement that the Taliban believe they will “not win militarily” angered senior members of the group, who warned U.S. officials against mixed messages that could muddle the peace process.

“We were astonished to see Khalilzad’s statement in Kabul on Sunday. He wrongly quoted us, saying that the Taliban admitted that militarily we would not succeed,” said a senior Taliban member in Afghanistan.

Another senior member said Khalilzad’s strategy to declare a deadline showed how desperate the U.S. was to withdraw foreign forces. “Taliban leaders have not agreed to any deadline because we are winning on all fronts,” he added.

The Taliban “are not losing” in Afghanistan, Gen. Joseph Dunford, the top U.S. military officer, said last week.

“We used the term stalemate a year ago and, relatively speaking, it has not changed much,” he told a security forum.

The NATO-led Resolute Support mission involves 41 nations contributing more than 12,000 soldiers, equipment and training for Afghan forces.

The Taliban have strengthened their grip over the past three years, with the government in Kabul controlling just 56 percent of the country, down from 72 percent in 2015, a U.S. government report showed this month.

Diplomats and political analysts in Kabul have labeled Khalilzad a man “in hurry” who must include Afghan politicians and officials from neighboring countries such as Pakistan and Iran before the third round of talks.

“Khalilzad’s hasty approach could lead to an epic disaster,” said a senior Western diplomat in Kabul. “The Taliban would trust him only if he did not speak on their behalf.”


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Over the past few days, the Kabul government has created a 6,000-strong force to stop the Taliban advance in the Afghan province of Ghazni. According to pro-government sources, this force has already retook control of the Malistan district. However, clashes between pro-government forces and the Taliban are still ongoing in the province.

In the province of Logar, over 12 pro-government fighters were reportedly killed in the recent clashes with the Taliban. In the Nawa district northeast of Kabul, 7 pro-government fighters were killed and 2 others were wounded.

'US does not intend to leave Afghanistan' (video - 01:18)

John Steppling, a political commentator, believes the US does not intend to leave Afghanistan because of its mineral resources and strategic location.


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At least 43 killed in Kabul blast near wedding hall – Afghan ministry

At least 43 people have been killed in a blast that took place near a wedding hall in the Afghan capital of Kabul, the country’s health ministry has said.

The blast took place as attendees gathered to celebrate Eid Milad, an Islamic holiday marking the birthday of the prophet Mohammed.

More than 80 other people were injured in the explosion, officials say. A ministry spokesman told Afghan news network Tolo News that the blast was a suicide bombing.

Wedding halls are popular targets for militants in Afghanistan. Last November, a suicide bomber killed over 14 people when he detonated himself outside a Kabul wedding hall, as supporters of a local governor gathered for a political event inside.

While no militant group has yet taken responsibility, Monday’s blast comes as Afghanistan’s ongoing 17-year conflict tips in favor of the Taliban.

NATO’s Resolute Support commander, Gen. Austin Scott Miller, told NBC News this month that the Taliban more than likely will not be defeated, and that the country needs a “political solution.”

The crowd targeted on Monday was primarily made up of religious scholars and clerics, a ministry spokesman said. The Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorist group has previously targeted “tyrant clerics” who side with the country’s US-backed government.

The group carried out a suicide bombing at a gathering of such clerics in June, killing at least seven people.

Afghanistan Still A Priority for Washington: CENTCOM

Major General Michael Langley, United States Central Command Director for Strategy, Plans, and Policy, has said that Afghanistan still remains the center of attention for Washington.

Speaking to a panel of experts at the United States Institute for Peace, Langley said that the condition-based strategy for Afghanistan is necessary and that the Taliban must engage in talks with the Afghan government.

“Let me be clear, Afghanistan remains the center of our attention. We know victory will require a political reconciliation. We know that condition-based strategy is necessary, and we know that the Taliban must engage in talks with the Afghan government,” Langley.

Meanwhile, panelists also said that the only solution to the conflict in Afghanistan is negotiations and talks. However they said that the Taliban are facing internal differences regarding the group’s endorsement of peace.

“Within the Taliban organization broadly speaking sort of three camps, when you talk about sort of the future of the organization in Afghanistan, for one you have got the more pragmatic side that is willing to at least attend discussions on a role for the Taliban in a stable political order in Afghanistan, on the other side the spectrum you have is those more extremist views that are happy to continue the fight until foreign forces are out of the country and even until perhaps the Taliban is once again the dominant political actor in Afghanistan. Now the third group I think are those that are if not more pragmatic than generally realistic in understanding that a stable Afghanistan is going to have to include the Taliban but also many other players,” said Jason Campbell, former country director for Afghanistan, office of the secretary of defense.

“The larger question we face here is whether bringing the Taliban, or a faction of the Taliban back into political settlement is going to really end the war,” said Dr. Orzala Ashraf Nemat, chairperson of Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU).

Talks with the Taliban have been dominating the political arena over the past seventeen years. But recent peace efforts indicate that these talks have now entered a critical phase.


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At least 43 killed in Kabul blast near wedding hall – Afghan ministry

At least 43 people have been killed in a blast that took place near a wedding hall in the Afghan capital of Kabul, the country’s health ministry has said.

The blast took place as attendees gathered to celebrate Eid Milad, an Islamic holiday marking the birthday of the prophet Mohammed.
November 12, 2018 - Islamic State claims explosion in Kabul
Islamic State claims explosion in Kabul | Reuters

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for Monday’s explosion in the Afghan capital, Kabul, according to the group’s news agency, Amaq

A suicide bomber blew himself up near a police checkpoint, killing at least six people, including policemen.

I suspect the Islamic State (ISIS - ISIL) is involved in this bombing - not the Taliban?

November 20, 2018 - Suicide Bomber kills over 50 at Religious Event in Kabul
Suicide bomber kills over 50 at religious event in Kabul | Reuters

Afghan security forces arrive at the site of a suicide bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

A suicide bomber blew himself up in a banqueting hall where Islamic religious scholars had gathered in the Afghan capital Kabul on Tuesday, killing more than 50 people, three government officials said.

Najib Danish, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said more than 80 other people had been injured.

“A suicide bomber detonated his explosives inside a wedding hall where Islamic religious scholars had gathered to commemorate the anniversary of the Prophet Mohammad’s birth,” Danish said.

The banquet room is in the Uranus wedding hall, a complex housing several large reception rooms near Kabul airport.

“Hundreds of Islamic scholars and their followers had gathered to recite verses from the holy Quran to observe the Eid Milad-un-Nabi festival at the private banquet hall,” said a spokesman for Kabul police.

Officials at Kabul’s Emergency Hospital said 30 ambulances had rushed to the scene and over 40 people were critically wounded.

Both the Sunni Taliban militant group and a local Islamic State affiliate have in the past attacked religious scholars aligned with the government — who have decreed that suicide attacks are forbidden by Islam.

But the Taliban said in a statement that “our men were not involved in the Kabul blast and we condemn the loss of human lives”.

The radical Sunni militant group Islamic State has mostly focused its major attacks on Afghan soil on Shi’ite Muslim sites of worship, regarding Shi’ites as heretics.

President Ashraf Ghani called Tuesday’s attack “un-Islamic” and “unforgivable”. He declared Wednesday a day of mourning.

Afghan security forces have struggled to prevent attacks by Islamist militants since most NATO combat troops withdrew in 2014.

Despite diplomatic efforts to end the 17-year war, in recent months the security situation has deteriorated sharply.

The Kabul government now controls only 56 percent of Afghan territory, down from 72 percent in 2015, according to a U.S. government report issued this month.

Tue Nov 20, 2018 - Taliban Says 'No Agreement' Reached with US on Afghan War Ending

Taliban leaders rejected a deadline of April 2019 to end the long-running war in Afghanistan, Reuters reported Monday.

US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who is representing Washington in negotiations to end the war, told the news outlet in a statement that the two sides held preliminary talks, and that no agreement was reached "on any issue".

Tue Nov 20, 2018 - Trump Pledges to End Foreign Aid to Pakistan, Afghanistan over Bin Laden Inaction

US President Donald Trump promised to cut aid to countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan that “do nothing for us”, and has accused Pakistan of sheltering Osama bin Laden since 9/11.

Of course we should have captured Osama Bin Laden long before we did. I pointed him out in my book just BEFORE the attack on the World Trade Center,” Trump tweeted on Monday, seemingly hinting that he knew bin Laden was bad news before 9/11, RT reported.

“President Clinton famously missed his shot. We paid Pakistan Billions of Dollars & they never told us he was living there. Fools!” he noted.

We no longer pay Pakistan the $Billions because they would take our money and do nothing for us, Bin Laden being a prime example,
Afghanistan being another,” he continued, stating that “they were just one of many countries that take from the United States without giving anything in return. That’s ENDING!”

The Trump administration has already cut almost $800 million off its $1.3 billion yearly military aid to Islamabad this year, arguing that the Pakistani government has not done enough to clamp down on Taliban extremists operating within its borders.

In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, Trump said the Pakistanis “don’t do a damn thing for us”, again mentioning their alleged complicity in sheltering Osama bin Laden.

"But living in Pakistan right next to the military academy, everybody in Pakistan knew he was there," Trump stressed, adding that "and we give Pakistan $1.3 billion a year...[bin Laden] lived in Pakistan, we're supporting Pakistan, we're giving them $1.3 billion a year. I ended it because they don't do anything for us, they don't do a damn thing for us".

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan responded to Trump on Monday, reminding the US president that Pakistan aided the US in the War on Terror, suffering human and economic losses of its own in the process.

“Instead of making Pakistan a scapegoat for their failures, the US should do a serious assessment of why, despite 140,000 NATO troops plus 250,000 Afghan troops & reportedly $1 trillion spent on war in Afghanistan, the Taliban today are stronger than before,” Khan continued.

While the Pakistani government denied knowledge of bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad, former President Barack Obama - who oversaw the raid that killed bin Laden in 2011 - said afterwards that there was “some sort of support network for bin Laden inside of Pakistan”. Former Pakistani Defense Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar told an Indian TV network in 2015 that Pakistani leadership knew that bin Laden was in Pakistan all along.

Whatever Pakistan’s responsibility, Trump’s threat to cut off aid is a familiar one from the president, who has operated a transactional approach to foreign policy since taking office. One month beforehand, Trump threatened to cut off or reduce aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, for failing to stop caravans of migrants from streaming toward the US border.

As for Trump’s claim that he predicted bin Laden’s involvement before 9/11, that statement is partly true at best. Bin Laden was already well-known for his role in bombing US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in the 1990s, and Trump described him in his 2000 book, ‘The America We Deserve’ as a “shadowy figure” that the US needed to strategize against.

Mon Nov 19, 2018 - Taliban’s Red Unit Fighters, Militants Suffer Heavy Casualties in Clashes with Afghan Army

The fighters of the Red Unit of Taliban and several other militants suffered casualties in Afghan army's operations and airstrikes in Eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The 201st Silab Corps of the Afghan Military in the East in a statement said the 02 unit of the Afghan military in Nangarhar conducted operations with the support of the Air Forces in Khogyani district, leaving at least 30 militants dead, Khaama Press reported.

The statement further added at least three Taliban militants also sustained injuries during the same operations and airstrikes.

In the meantime, the 201st Silab Corps said a number of the Red Unit fighters of the Taliban group are also among those killed.

The anti-government armed militant groups including Taliban have not commented regarding the report so far.

Nangarhar has been among the relatively calm provinces in East of Afghanistan but the security situation in some of its remote districts has deteriorated during the recent years.


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Nov. 21, 2018 - Afghans try to identify group behind attack on Clerics, Toll climbs to 55
Afghans try to identify group behind attack on clerics, toll climbs to 55 | Reuters

A policeman stands guard outside a hall where a suicide bomb attack happened in Kabul, Afghanistan November 21, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

Afghan authorities were struggling on Wednesday to identify the group behind a suicide bomb attack that killed at least 55 people attending a gathering of religious scholars in Kabul after the Taliban denied any responsibility.

The victims included religious delegates from various parts of the country, invited by the Afghan Ulema Council to celebrate the birth anniversary of Prophet Mohammad on Tuesday.

Without knowing who was behind the attack, it was unclear whether the aim was simply to undermine President Ashraf Ghani’s government, or whether it was part of a strategy to keep the pressure on his government and its Western allies while they pursued talks with the Taliban, to end the 17-year long war.

“As of now we don’t know which militant outfit could be behind the attack. Investigations are at a preliminary stage,” said a senior security official who was at the blast site on Wednesday morning to collect forensic evidence.

The council, the country’s largest religious organization, brought together scholars from the Sunni sect, but it was uncertain whether the attack could have had a sectarian dimension.

Though Sunni themselves, Taliban and Islamic State fighters have targeted religious scholars aligned with the Afghan government in the past.

This time, the Taliban quickly denied its involvement and condemned the attack on religious preachers and scholars.

Last week, Taliban leaders met U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad at their political headquarters in Qatar in an effort to pave the way for peace talks. The three-day meeting was the second in the past month.

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Afghans try to identify group behind attack on clerics, toll climbs to 55 | Reuters
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