- The top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan on Thursday narrowly escaped a bold, deadly insider attack the Taliban claimed responsibility for.
- The Taliban said Gen. Scott Miller was one of the targets of the attack in addition to the country’s powerful police chief, but the Pentagon denies this.
- The Trump administration downplaying the significance of the attack, but it’s another sign the US is losing the war.
Gen. Scott Miller, the top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, on Thursday narrowly escaped a bold, deadly insider attack the Taliban claimed responsibility for.
Miller at one point drew his sidearm during the attack, but did not fire, according to CNN.
The attack took place in Kandahar, and led to the death of Gen. Abdul Raziq, a powerful Afghan police chief.
Several other Afghan police and officials were killed or wounded, and three Americans were wounded in the incident as well. The assailant was reportedly killed in the firefight.
Three top Afghan leaders were assassinated during an event in Kandahar Thurs., just days before the country’s parliamentary elections.
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) October 18, 2018
Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Smiley was among the Americans wounded in Thursday’s incident and is recovering from a gunshot wound, a NATO spokesman confirmed to CNN on Sunday. Smiley is in charge of the NATO military advisory mission in southern Afghanistan.
The attack highlights just how insecure Afghanistan is, and came just two days before the country held national elections.
It was an astonishing moment in a conflict that recently entered its 18th year, and perhaps the most embarrassing piece of evidence yet the US is badly losing the war.
The Taliban hoped to kill a US general to get America to leave Afghanistan
The Taliban said Miller was one of the targets of the attack in addition to Raziq, but the Pentagon denies this.
A Taliban commander told NBC News if it had been successful in killing Miller, who emerged from the attack unscathed, that President Donald Trump would have withdrawn the roughly 15,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan. The Taliban still feels the attack was a “major success” due to the death of Raziq.
"Today I lost a great friend LTG Raziq. We had served together for many years. Afghanistan lost a patriot, my condolences to the people of Afghanistan. The good he did for Afghanistan and the Afghan people cannotbe undone. " – Gen. Scott Miller
— Resolute Support (@ResoluteSupport) October 18, 2018
Defence Secretary Jim Mattis on Friday described the loss of Raziq, whom the Taliban attempted to kill dozens of times, as the “tragic loss of a patriot.” But Mattis also said the attack hasn’t made him less confident in the ability of Afghan security forces to take on the Taliban.
Despite the Pentagon’s efforts to downplay the significant of this attack, it’s a sign of how emboldened the Taliban has become via major gains over the past year or so.
The war has reached its deadliest point in years as the Taliban gains ground
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in July claimed Trump’s strategy in Afghanistan is working, and he suggested pressure from the US military and its allies was pushing the Taliban toward a peace process. But the reality is much different.
Thursday’s attack came just one day after a Taliban suicide bomber targeted a NATO convoy close to Kabul, the Afghan capital, killing two civilians and injuring five Czech troops.
At the moment, the Taliban controls or contests roughly half of all the country’s districts, according to the US military. But many military analysts claim approximately 61% of Afghanistan’s districts are controlled or threatened by the Taliban.
There have been eight US military deaths in Afghanistan in 2018. This is a far-cry from the deadliest year of the war for American in 2010, when 499 US troops were killed.
But civilian casualties are reaching unprecedented levels in Afghanistan, a sign of how unstable the country has become over the past year or so. The war is on track to kill over 20,000 civilians in Afghanistan this year alone, according to data from the Uppsala Conflict Data Program, meaning the conflict has reached its deadliest point in years.
Trends suggest that the total number of battle deaths in Afghanistan will exceed 20,000 this year, including civilians and combatants on both sides. Historical data is flawed, but the war may be growing more intense than anything since the 1980s. https://t.co/ac7K73CZjM pic.twitter.com/qiweTv8I8M
— Graeme Smith (@smithkabul) July 23, 2018
America’s ‘forever war’
There is still no end in sight to this war, which costs US taxpayers roughly $US45 billion per year, and the US government is running out of answers as to why American troops are still fighting and dying there.
The conflict began as a reaction to the 9/11 terror attacks and the Taliban’s close ties to Osama bin Laden, who has since been assassinated by the US.
At this point, Americans born after 9/11 are old enough to enlist in the military with parental consent, and will have the opportunity to fight in a conflict sparked by an event they couldn’t possibly remember.
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