At a moment President Trump has ordered the Pentagon to reduce US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq by 2,500 in each country, Islamic State terrorists have claimed responsibility for a massive attack on the Afghan capital of Kabul on Saturday.
A barrage of 23 rockets slammed into targets in Kabul, according to Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry, including at least one hitting an office in a foreign diplomatic area.
It’s among the deadliest recent attacks in the country with eight people confirmed killed and at least 31 injured by the explosions. Earlier this month an ISIS attack on Kabul University killed 22 and ended in a bloody standoff with Afghan security forces.
The Taliban denied responsibility for the attack at a sensitive moment coming on the same day Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Qatar to meet with representatives of the Taliban as part of ongoing truce talks, also as the US is seeking to put in place a roadmap for a final American exit from its longest-running war.
As The Wall Street Journal notes, Afghanistan’s national government is directly pointing the finger at the Taliban:
The Afghan government blamed the Taliban for the attack. The insurgent group denied involvement.
“This heinous attack by the Taliban shows their weakness and defeat,” Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said.
Hours after the attack, Islamic State’s branch in Afghanistan claimed to be behind it, according to a communiqué reported by the SITE Intel Group, a U.S.-based nongovernmental group that tracks terrorist activities online.
Secretary of State Michael Pompeo met officials from the Taliban and Afghan government in Qatar on Saturday as the U.S. seeks to keep peace negotiations on track https://t.co/rOuZEoErFE
— Bloomberg (@business) November 21, 2020
Among the biggest hurdle to peace talks happening in Doha remains a Taliban truce and reconciliation deal with the Afghan national government. Both have continued to blame the other for ongoing violence and unrest.
Meanwhile, it appears the country continues to slip out of the control of the national government, which entire provinces in some instances under de facto control of the Taliban and other Islamist factions.