US airstrike in Kabul causes 'several casualties'

World       by Mahmood Idrees | Published

World by Mahmood Idrees | Published

Interviewed by The Washington Post, Ahmad Saeedi, now a political analyst who previously served as an Afghan diplomat, said only a few top people knew about the visit by Mattis and Stoltenberg-suggesting that the rocket attack was a serious security breach.

Shortly after, the Islamic State also claimed responsibility for the attack through its Amaq News Agency.

One witness tweeted: "Currently on lockdown at The Baron hotel in Kabul".

One person was killed and four were wounded in the attack, according to Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Najibn Danish.

Already in the first half of the year, as Afghan and US aerial operations have picked up, United Nations figures have shown a 43-percent jump in civilian casualties caused by air strikes and Ghani called on his allies to limit the damage.

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"Resolute Support deeply regrets the harm to non-combatants".

According to CNN, Mattis had not been fully briefed on the attack before speaking at Wednesday's press conference.

"They have announced a little while ago that they're going to conduct joint operations" and this could well be the case, he said. "It defines their approach to how they see their role here".

The casualties caused by a U.S. airstrike in the capital have cast a pall over Mattis's trip to the country and could fuel anger towards American forces whose reputation is already tarnished.

Mattis's comments were backed up by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who was also in the country for a series of meetings alongside Mattis and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. They just might've known that someone really important is coming to the airport, " Raines said.

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Mattis visited India before arriving in Kabul.

Under Trump's plan, more than 3,000 troops will be added to the 11,000 USA forces already on the ground in Afghanistan. The attack without doubt was a signal to India's expanding footprints in Afghanistan much to discomfort of Pakistan. A statement by the Resolute Support mission provided no details on the number of insurgents or casualties.

"I don't want to tell the enemy exactly what we are doing, but the whole point is to make certain we have a compelling battlefield advantage over anything the Taliban tries to mass against [Afghan] forces", Mattis said. Stoltenberg said the attack was a sign of the Taliban's weakness.

He said the insurgents mined the area around the base to prevent authorities from sending in reinforcements. "The more stable Afghanistan is, the more safe we will be", Stoltenberg said.

During the attack, up to 40 rounds of munitions, including 29 rocket-propelled grenades, hit the airport.

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The number of US personnel in Afghanistan is around 8,000, and Mattis has pledged to send 3,000 more to help boost the defense of the country, but to also train the Afghan security forces. He spoke of the importance of Trump's new strategy in seeking an end to extremist violence that has blighted the country for more than a decade.

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