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US-Forces carry out airstrikes against Taliban in Helmand

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(Last Updated On: October 12, 2020)

US-Forces Afghanistan spokesman Colonel Sonny Leggett confirms American forces have conducted several targeted strikes in Helmand over the past two days to defend Afghan National Defense and Security Forces who have come under attack by the Taliban. 

In a series of tweets, he said this was in accordance with the US-Taliban agreement and that USFOR-A has and will continue to provide support in defense of the ANDSF under attack by the Taliban.

US-Forces Afghanistan Commander, General Scott Miller said: “The Taliban need to immediately stop their offensive actions in Helmand Province and reduce their violence around the country. It is not consistent with the US-Taliban agreement and undermines the ongoing Afghan Peace Talks.”

This announcement comes amid intense fighting in the southern province which started on Saturday night when the Taliban launched coordinated attacks on a number of areas. 

Since then hundreds of residents, in various districts and in the provincial capital Lashkargah have fled their homes. 

Late Monday morning, President Ashraf Ghani assured Helmand’s governor, General Mohammad Yasin Khan, of the full support of the Afghan security forces amid escalating violence in the province. 

In a phone conversation with Yasin Khan on Monday, Ghani told the governor he has ordered military institutions to take serious steps to support Helmand. 

Yasin Khan said on his Facebook page that “His Excellency the President conveyed his best wishes to the people of Helmand and assured them of the full attention of the Central Government, saying that an attack on Helmand would be very difficult for the enemies of the country.”

Yasin Khan said he briefed Ghani on the security situation and was assured he has government’s full cooperation. 

This comes after clashes continued through Sunday night and into Monday morning, while gun battles were reported on the outskirts of Lashkargah. 

In social media posts early Monday, the Taliban’s white flags were seen flying above the entrance gate into the city. 

Travelers on the Helmand-Kandahar highway also reported heavy clashes along the route. Many motorists posted photographs of vehicles lined up along the route, after the road was closed overnight due to the fighting. 

The governor’s spokesman, Omar Zwak on Monday also confirmed an explosion had been reported close to a checkpoint in Lashkargah city, killing a child and wounding at least five others. 

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Renegades signs Afghan teenager for Australia’s Big Bash League

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(Last Updated On: October 29, 2020)

Australia’s Melbourne Renegades have signed up 15-year-old Noor Ahmad after a 12-month scouting mission and plan to unleash him on the Big Bash League later this year. 

Earlier this week Renegades confirmed Mohammad Nabi had also signed up and on Thursday, the club announced on its website, 15-year-old Noor Ahmad, from Kabul, will also join their team. 

“We’ve been tracking Noor Ahmad closely for more than a year now and although he’s in the early stages of his career, he’s an exciting prospect and he has a few tricks that’ll make life difficult for batsmen,” Renegades Coach Michael Klinger said. 

Ahmad is a left-arm wrist-spinner who has earned high praise around the globe.

Ahmad earned a contract in the Caribbean Premier League earlier this year and won a T20 trophy under Mohammad Nabi’s captaincy in 2019.

“The Renegades fans and followers of the Big Bash may not know much about Noor at this stage but I can tell you, he is a very exciting talent who I feel has a big future in the game,” Nabi said.

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Khalilzad meets with Taliban’s Baradar, discusses increase in violence

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(Last Updated On: October 29, 2020)

US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad met with Taliban deputy leader Abdul Ghani Baradar in Doha on Wednesday night to discuss a range of issues relating to the Afghan peace process, including the high levels of violence. 

In a series of tweets by the Taliban’s Doha spokesman, Mohammad Naeem, Khalilzad was accompanied by US Forces Afghanistan commander General Scott Miller.

Naeem said the discussion centered around a number of issues and talks were held on the full “implementation of the whole articles of the agreement signed between the IEA [Taliban] and the US”.

He also said the release of remaining prisoners was discussed as was removing names of Taliban members from the US’ blacklist. 

According to him, the increase in hostilities was discussed and attributed the high levels of violence to a number of factors. He said the “humiliation of the martyrs’ bodies” was one reason, as was that of raids carried out against released prisoners and “their killing”. 

He also said, “offensives and the violation of the agreement overall were reckoned the causes that don’t lead the circumstances to a good direction.”

Khalilzad returned to Doha earlier this week to meet with negotiating teams in Doha to press both sides to immediately reduce the levels of violence that Afghan civilians are forced to bear. 

According to a statement issued on Wednesday by the US State Department: “Too many Afghans are dying. The sides urgently need an agreement on a reduction of violence leading to a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.” 

“Along with international partners, Ambassador Khalilzad will press the two negotiating teams to accelerate their efforts and agree to a political roadmap that ends Afghanistan’s 40-year-long war. The sides must move past procedure and into substantive negotiations. American and international assistance remains available to all sides,” the statement read. 

Khalilzad meanwhile said in a series of tweets on Tuesday night that he returns “to the region disappointed that despite commitments to lower violence, it has not happened.”

“The window to achieve a political settlement will not stay open forever,” he said.

“Intransigence and a refusal to abandon animosity, embrace fellow citizens, and agree on a formula for political cooperation/competition underpin the ongoing war.”

Khalilzad said: “Afghans are dying at a high rate, and regional spoilers are using Afghans as cannon fodder for their illegitimate objectives.  Bloodshed must end.

“Afghans need to pivot to development instead of destruction, stability instead of chaos, forgiveness instead of vengeance, compromise instead of inflexibility,” he said.

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Bajwa warns Pakistan and Afghanistan ‘can’t afford chaos’

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(Last Updated On: October 29, 2020)

Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa said on Wednesday that Afghanistan and Pakistan could not afford the risk of lawlessness and chaos as such a situation would have catastrophic consequences for both countries.

Speaking during his visit to a hospital in Peshawar to visit victims of Tuesday’s bombing at a madrassa that killed at least seven people, including children, and wounded more than 100, Bajwa said that Afghan refugees in Pakistan should exercise caution about unfavorable elements so that they were not wittingly or unwittingly used in terrorist activities, Dawn News reported. 

He said Pakistan has always wanted peace in Afghanistan and would spare no effort to restore peace and stability in the country.

Bajwa also said Pakistan and Afghanistan had faced terrorism for the past two decades but that peace in both countries was intertwined.

Tuesday’s explosion happened as a prominent religious scholar was giving a special class about the teachings of Islam at the main hall of the Jamia Zubairia madrassa, police confirmed. 

Some Afghan students studying at the seminary were also among the wounded persons, officials said.

 

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