US changing its tune in Afghanistan as 'barbaric' Taliban becomes bulwark against ISIS
Washington's longtime adversary in Afghanistan is becoming more palatable by the month, with a State Department official going so far as to say that the United States is doing "everything we can" to help bring the Taliban and the Afghan government to the negotiating table.
General John Nicholson, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, even acknowledged that the Taliban was fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL/ISIS), which he "encouraged." But just a few months prior, Nicholson had said that such claims were widely exaggerated and part of a narrative used by Russia to legitimize the group.
Its distaste for IS militants aside, the Taliban has managed to slowly tip the scales in its favor in a war that has lasted more than fifteen years – perhaps another reason why Washington is changing its tune in Afghanistan.
The Taliban’s resurgence has been a bloody one. In the eastern city of Ghazni, the UN reported that over 100 civilians have been killed in clashes between the Taliban and Afghan security forces, who are backed by US airpower.
The city, a key strategic spot given its proximity to the capital, Kabul, has been rocked by five days of intense fighting. Taliban fighters have blocked roads in and out of the city, trapping civilians inside and preventing the Afghan military from reinforcing.
“Many people, including my neighbors were killed there,” one resident told Ruptly. “I saw my friend die. He was among 13 people, including children and women...killed in an airstrike last night.” Another resident said that the Afghan government has abandoned Ghazni. “There’s no attention from the government,” he said. “Dead bodies are still on the roadside.”
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