More US Troops Heading for Afghanistan after Massacre?

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced the high-level resignations Monday, on the same day that U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis arrived in the country on an unannounced visit, as the Trump administration reviews its Afghanistan policy.

Earlier on Monday, Mattis visited headquarters of the NATO-led Resolute Support (RS) in Kabul where he met with RS Commander Gen. John Nicholson and discussed the security situation, the RS forces twitted.

His arrival Monday in Kabul comes on the heels of a weekend attack on a northern Afghan army base by the Taliban.

The attack, the latest in a series of brazen Taliban assaults, underscores the insurgents' growing strength more than 15 years since they were ousted from power by the USA invasion of 2001. "It shows why we stand with the people of this country against such heinous acts". The US has repeatedly asked the Pakistani government to crack down on the terror group.

Earlier this month the U.S. dropped a GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast, dubbed the "Mother of All Bombs", on Islamic State hideouts in the eastern province of Nangarhar and killed almost 100 militants, according to unverified figures from Afghan officials.

The attack was the deadliest on the security forces since 2001.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis arrived Monday at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation headquarters in Afghanistan, a surprise visit tacked on the end of the former general's Middle East tour.

The Defense Department said his tour is aimed at reaffirming key U.S. military alliances, engaging with strategic partners and discussing cooperation to counter terrorism.

The statement said the attack was in retaliation for the killing of the Taliban shadow governor of Kunduz province, Mullah Abdul Salam Akhund, and threatened more violence against the army and police, saying "this year's operations will be painful".

But it was followed by Friday's attack at Camp Sheehan. The fighting reportedly lasted some six hours. "We wish Allah's mercy upon members of the Afghan National Army who lost their lives and wish speedy recovery to the wounded, and convey our condolences to the brotherly Afghan people and the government", it said, adding Turkey would continue to remain in solidarity with Afghanistan in its fight against terrorism. The attack was claimed by the Taliban. They arrived inside northern Afghanistan's largest military installation just as hundreds, perhaps thousands, of unarmed soldiers were emerging from Friday Prayers and preparing for lunch.

A spokesperson for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, Capt William Salvin, confirmed the vehicle bomb attack.

  • Rogelio Becker