US Defense Secretary Jim ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis who made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan, during a press conference with Gen. John Nicholson, American commander in Afghanistan said he would “not refute” that Moscow’s involvement includes giving weapons to the Taliban.
“We’ll engage with Russia diplomatically,” Mattis said. “We’ll do so where we can, but we’re going to have to confront Russia where what they’re doing is contrary to international law or denying the sovereignty of other countries.”
“For example,” Mattis told reporters in the Afghan capital, “any weapons being funneled here from a foreign country would be a violation of international law.”
Afghan officials have previously said that Russia was giving machine guns and other medium-weight weapons. But Russia denied that it provides any such support to the Taliban.
Regarding the recent base attack in Blakh province, Mattis called the attack on unarmed soldiers at a mosque and dining facility proof that the insurgent group was a “barbaric enemy,” saying of the Taliban, “These people have no religious foundation, they are not devout anything, and it shows why we stand with the people of this country against such heinous acts.”
He did say, “We are under no illusions about the challenges associated with this mission,” adding that “2017 is going to be another tough year for the valiant Afghan security forces and the international troops who have stood and who will continue to stand should to shoulder with Afghanistan against terrorism.”
Gen. Nicholson also said about the base attack in Balkh province, “it’s quite possible” that the Pakistan-based Haqqani network was responsible. The Taliban claimed it carried out the attack.”
Mattis who is the first member of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet to visit Afghanistan emphasized that his visit at the headquarters of Operation Resolute Support, the NATO-led mission to train and advise Afghan security forces.
By: Zack Arya