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Gen. Campbell: US mission in Afghanistan not changing

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(Last Updated On: February 14, 2016)

natoU.S. troops in Afghanistan will not return to an active role fighting the Taliban despite the likelihood of another difficult year of combat, the outgoing commander of international forces, Gen. John Campbell, said on Saturday.

U.S. special forces units assisting Afghan forces have been involved in firefights in the volatile southern province of Helmand, where a Green Beret was killed last month and where the Taliban have put government forces under pressure.

Another 500 U.S. soldiers have been sent down to the province to bolster local forces that have been hard-pressed to hold on to key district centers such as Sangin and Marjah, but their role will remain to advise and assist.

“The mission hasn’t changed,” Campbell told reporters in Kabul in what is likely to be his final news conference before handing over to Lt. Gen. John Nicholson in March. But he said they would be able to defend themselves and call in air support if necessary.

“They’re not actively going out to fight but if they get attacked, they have to be able to provide force protection to themselves,” he said. “That’s where you see Apache helicopters, bombs, drones, those kind of things.”

Afghan forces, which took over combat operations when NATO’s fighting mission ended in 2014, have struggled and are expected to need international assistance for years to come.

Around 9,800 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan. Under current plans that number is due to fall to 5,500 by the end of 2016.

In addition to training Afghan forces, the U.S. military has stepped up operations against Islamic State fighters, mainly in the east of the country. With troop numbers set to fall, questions have been raised about what changes they will have to make to carry out both missions.

Campbell said he has requested more flexibility in the authorization of force as well as in tactics and procedures used by U.S. forces against the Taliban. Except in very limited circumstances, current rules only allow him to order air strikes or other attacks against the Islamist insurgent movement when U.S. troops are threatened.

In the meanwhile, Campbell said Afghan forces were trying to improve in areas including leadership and recruitment, reducing high rates of desertion and getting more soldiers off ineffective checkpoints and taking on the Taliban.

“The Afghans need to focus on those four, five, six things to make sure that 16 is not like 15,” he said.

Written by: Reuters

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Children included among refugees forced into river by Iranian border guards

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(Last Updated On: May 28, 2020)

Findings show some children were among the ones thrown killed into the Harirud River by Iranian border guards.

The families of those who were thrown into the Harirud River by Iranian border guards a few weeks back have demanded the government share the results of the fact-finding committee with them.

The Independent Human Rights Commission (IHRC) has also acknowledged that there were children among the victims.

Naeem Nazari, deputy head of the Independent Human Rights Commission, said their investigation revealed that several children included those thrown into the river by Iranian border guards.

Herat Governor Sayed Wahid Qatali also said that the investigation was ongoing, and some considerable results had been achieved, which would soon be made public.

On the other hand, the families of those who were thrown into the river by Iranian border guards are asking the government to share with them the results of the investigation conducted by the fact-finding committee.

A delegation led by the Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister arrived in Afghanistan a few days ago and met with Afghan officials.

The Iranian and Afghan delegations stressed that this issue should be seriously investigated and that the results should be shared with the people.

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Prisoner releases; Taliban’s technical team arrives in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: May 28, 2020)

A Taliban technical team has arrived in Kabul to conduct verification for the Taliban prisoners.

The Taliban’s political office in Qatar and the Office of National Security Council confirmed that the team had come to Kabul only to take care of some technical work on the releases of prisoners at both ends.

Suhail Shaheen, the spokesperson for the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, said that a five-member Taliban team had been sent to Kabul to verify and release the prisoners and that the team would address some technical problems.

The Office National Security Council also confirmed that the Taliban and the government’s technical delegation were working to ease the release of prisoners.

On the other hand, the Pentagon believes that the Afghan government has taken an effective step towards peace by deciding to release 2,000 Taliban prisoners in the new round.

Many believe that as hurdles have been removed to an extent, the opportunity for bringing peace should not be missed this time.

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COVID-19

Coronavirus update; cases exceed 13,000 in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: May 28, 2020)

With 580 newly registered cases, the total number of cases for the Coronavirus reached 13,036, with 235 deaths.

The Ministry of Public Health announced the 580 new cases of Coronavirus as follows: Kabul with 322 cases, Herat with 139, Panjshir with 27, Balkh with 22, Farah with 21, Paktia with 20, Faryab with 15, and Parwan with 14 cases.

The Ministry of Public Health also expressed concerns about the lack of facilities saying that the Darulaman Palace, which was designated for the Coronavirus patients, has been evacuated.

Waheed Majrooh, a deputy of the Health Ministry, said that if medical supplies are not provided soon, it will cause major troubles.

Majrooh added that the Darulaman Palace, which was the center of abstraction, had been evacuated, and its beds had been transferred to hospitals.

The Ministry of Public Health emphasized that the least people can do is using masks, keeping social distancing, and washing their hands more often.

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