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US lawmakers concerned Taliban may grab military gear after withdrawal

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(Last Updated On: May 22, 2021)

US Brigadier General Matthew Trollinger, deputy director of politico-military affairs for the Joint Staff, told Senate lawmakers during a hearing on Afghanistan that US military equipment could end up in the hands of Taliban fighters and terrorist groups.

When pressed for a guarantee that enemy fighters in the region won’t steal some of the abandoned and gifted military equipment, Trollinger said “there aren’t any guarantees.”

But officials said they are using the time left until the pullout is completed to minimize that threat, while doing as much as they can to leave Afghan partners with tools to continue the fight.

“We will be transferring facilities, some vehicles and other equipment that the Afghan national defense forces can utilize in their ongoing efforts to secure the country,” said Trollinger.

“We will be retrograding equipment that we’re able to bring back to bases and stations in the continental United States as well as elsewhere, and then we’ll be disposing of equipment that essentially is either obsolete, inoperable or legally we’re not able to transfer to Afghanistan.”

This comes amid concerns from a number of Senate Armed Services Committee members who questioned the security state of Afghanistan once the US has withdrawn from Afghanistan.

Earlier this week, CENTCOM officials said the drawdown is between 13 percent and 20 percent complete.

David Helvey, acting assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific affairs, said military leaders are working closely to try and prevent logistics breakdowns with the Afghan security forces.

“We’re going to continue to maintain contact with our partners to determine what we can from outside the country, and maintain good situational awareness of their current capabilities,” he said.

“And we’re looking at any areas where they may be challenged and we may be able to help them.”

But he acknowledged that “corruption is a problem in Afghanistan” and that securing any functional equipment left behind will be a challenge.

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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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Turkey could run Kabul airport, says Erdogan

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(Last Updated On: October 16, 2021)

Having previously run Kabul airport, Turkey can take similar steps in the future with Qatar and Afghanistan if the three countries reach a deal, the Turkish president said on Friday.

“So far, we have had a lot of effort in Afghanistan’s infrastructure and superstructure … We were operating the Kabul Airport. In the future, if agreements can be reached, Turkey, Qatar, Afghanistan, we can take such steps,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters.

About the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s recent visit to Turkey, Erdogan said the group asked for humanitarian aid and “made requests concerning the functionality of new process in Afghanistan.”

Erdogan vowed to provide “all manner of support” to the Afghan people as long as the interim administration “takes a just stance in protecting the rights of the Afghan people.”

He said the IEA should also take a fair stance in their relations with Turkey.

An IEA delegation visited Turkey on Thursday to discuss bilateral issues, as well as cooperation on the future of Afghanistan.

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