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Miller warns of increase in Taliban pressure on provincial capitals

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(Last Updated On: May 17, 2021)

US Forces Commander in Afghanistan General Scott Miller has said they are closely watching what the Taliban will do following the three-day Eid ceasefire that ended at midnight on Saturday but said he expects violence to increase.

In an interview with BBC, Miller said: “Ideally they would continue with the reduced violence because it is something that the Afghan people want.

“But the expectation is that they will pick up violence in the nearer term.”

He also said he expects the Taliban will increase pressure on different provincial capitals but stated it is now the time for the Afghan security forces to stand on their own.

However, coalition forces are still helping the Afghan security forces – even during their withdrawal.

“And even as we’re retrograding, we are certainly trying to put them (Afghan forces) in the best possible posture that we are able to.”

He said the Afghan forces have the capability to keep the Taliban at bay, adding that “they have to hold”.

He said there is an “emotional aspect” attached to withdrawing from Afghanistan but that the US military has to stay focused on the withdrawal process, which must be done “in accordance with our orders”.

“Our obligations are wanting to make sure our force is protected and that we are able to withdraw coalition forces as safely and as orderly as possible. And at the same time ensure that we leave our Afghan security partners in a position that they are able to pick this up and carry it on.”

He said this was “an obligation that we feel, not just (to) the security forces, but also to the people of Afghanistan.”

On the overall situation after 20 years in the country, and asked if the US had failed, Miller said in response: “I think as we take a look at this thing, history is going to write this story.

“The objectives that we set out I think they’ll be evaluated and I think we really need to take a really honest look at the things that we did not do as well as we wanted to.

“Certainly there were some victories along the way but I think history will judge this and the future will tell the rest of the story.

The US and NATO withdrawal, of a total of around 10,000 troops along with 20 years worth of military equipment, officially started on May 1 and is expected to finish by September 11 – the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

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Herat residents welcome much needed food parcels from Bayat Foundation

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(Last Updated On: October 16, 2021)

Following the donation of food supplies in southern Kandahar province last week, the Bayat Foundation, an Afghan Charity Organization, has also stepped in to help desperate families in western Herat Province.

The foundation distributed food packages, which included cooking oil, flour, and rice, to dozens of vulnerable families this week.

Haji Mohammad Ismail, Deputy Chairman of the Bayat Foundation, said: “The Bayat Foundation has distributed aid in provinces. We already distributed to vulnerable people in Kandahar. Fortunately, we came here to Herat to distribute aid including flour, cooking oil, and rice to the most vulnerable and displaced people.”

“Inshallah, additional aid from us will be distributed to other zones and provinces as well,” he added.

Zarin Sultani, Head of Afghan Wireless Communication Company (AWCC) in Herat, which is working in coordination with the Bayat Foundation, stated: “A list (of other vulnerable families) will be prepared and will be handed over to a committee for assessment.”

“This list will be finalized and then the list will be shared with elders such as Haji Sahib Bayat and Haji Sahib Ismail; thereafter, aid will be provided to them (the families),” he said.

The recipients of the latest delivery expressed their gratitude for the food supplies and thanked the foundation.

Again, recipients appealed to other organizations to step forward with urgent humanitarian aid.

One Herat recipient said she was “very happy” to receive the food parcel as she was a widow with children.

“I am very happy for this aid. I have children and am widowed and there is no place to work,” she said.

Gul Ahmad, a recipient of Bayat Foundation’s aid was another grateful recipient. “We had nothing to cook for four or five days. I am going out [of the house for work] but cannot find any [job]. Now, I am very happy…for this aid that I received.”

The Bayat Foundation started helping needy families months ago and the organization plans to distribute aid to as many vulnerable people in other provinces as it can.

This comes amid a crushing economy that has put millions of Afghans at risk of starvation.

As winter looms, international organizations including the UN have warned of dire consequences unless Afghans get immediate help.

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Pentagon offers payment to families of victims of botched drone strike

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(Last Updated On: October 16, 2021)

The Pentagon has offered unspecified condolence payments to the family of 10 civilians who were killed in a botched U.S. drone attack in Afghanistan in August in the final days before American troops withdrew from the country.

The U.S. Defense Department said it made a commitment that included offering ex-gratia condolence payments, in addition to working with the U.S. State Department in support of the family members who were interested in relocation to the United States.

The Pentagon had said the strike targeted an Islamic State (Daesh) suicide bomber who posed an imminent threat to U.S.-led troops as they completed their withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The intelligence failure raised hard questions about future risks, particularly whether the United States can keep track of threats from Afghanistan without a presence in the country.

The confirmation of civilian deaths provided further fuel to critics of the chaotic U.S. withdrawal, which generated the biggest foreign policy crisis yet for President Joe Biden’s administration.

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NASA probe will study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids

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(Last Updated On: October 16, 2021)
NASA launched a first-of-its kind mission on Saturday to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids, two large clusters of space rocks that scientists believe are remnants of primordial material that formed the solar system’s outer planets. Matthew Larotonda reports.
 
NASA launched a new space probe on Saturday (October 16) morning in a special 12-year mission designed to visit more asteroids than ever before.

It focuses on the Trojan asteroids, which are two large clumps of space rocks orbiting the sun. One floats ahead of Jupiter and the other behind it.

Scientists believe the rocks are leftovers from the formation of our solar system.

The probe is called “Lucy” and NASA hopes it will help us learn more about our solar system’s history.

The asteroids are also rich in carbon compounds, and may provide insights into organic materials and life on Earth.

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