Mattis was target of Taliban rocket attack on Kabul Intl Airport
”Rockets landed near the airport this morning. No casualties reported,” Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish tweeted on Wednesday.
There have been no reports of casualties and Mattis was not near the airport when the rockets hit, Reuters reports.
The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the rocket attack on the airport, saying that Mattis was the target, Afghan TOLO news channel reported. Shortly afterwards, Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) claimed that their rockets targeted the airport, Reuters reports, citing jihadist Amaq news agency.
According to Amaq, IS terrorists used SPG-9 rockets and mortars for the assault.
This is the first official visit of the defense secretary to the war-torn country since US President Donald Trump’s decision in August to intensify US involvement in Afghanistan.
“Our troops will fight to win,” Trump said, adding that “a hasty withdrawal,” would create a “vacuum” for terrorists. The US troops will remain in the country for an indefinite period of time, he said, vowing “fast and powerful” retribution against terrorist organizations.
Mattis said at that time that he had “directed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to make preparations to carry out the president’s strategy.”
In September, Mattis confirmed that over 3,000 new US troops will be headed to Afghanistan as part of the new strategy to win the war.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov described the strategy as a “dead end,” as it mainly relies on the use of force. The strategy also allows negotiations with the Taliban without any preconditions, which is a significant flaw, Lavrov said.