On Saturday, January 11, two US servicemen were killed in a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan’s Kandahar. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack in which two soldiers were also severely injured. Since the failure of peace negotiations in September 2019, the Afghan government continues to remain at loggerheads with the insurgent Taliban which wants a complete withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
The Pentagon has also confirmed the killings on Saturday, stating that the soldiers were on “their first combat deployments when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device near the Kandahar province.”
In the 18 years of fighting in Afghanistan, nearly 2,500 US military personnel have been killed in deadly attacks by the Taliban. Last year, around 25 US soldiers were killed despite peace negotiations being hosted by Qatar. These talks ended after US president Donald Trump made a sudden announcement on Twitter, cancelling the peace talks.
While the US peace envoy Zalmay Khalidzad continues to stress on the immediate need to bring the insurgent Taliban and the Afghan government led by Ashraf Ghani to the table in order to declare a ceasefire, the Taliban has been demanding the immediate exit of the US military. Earlier in November 2019, two US soldiers died when their helicopter crashed in Logan province. Taliban had at the time claimed responsibility for the crash, but the US military dismissed the claims saying that their preliminary reports indicated that the “crash wasn’t caused because of enemy fire”
Meanwhile, the worst hit casualties in the Afghanistan conflict have been the people who are facing violence from every corner. In a report titled ‘They Shot Many Like This: Abusive Night Raids by CIA-Backed Afghan Strike Forces,’ Human Rights Watch documents 14 cases in which the US-backed paramilitary units, also dubbed as “death squads”, committed serious abuses between late 2017 and mid-2019. The report also concludes that the Afghan forces have been involved in “intentionally targeting medical staff for treating wounded insurgents.”
The Taliban controls more than half the 230 districts of the country. The US seems trapped in what Trump has called a “never ending war” in the rugged terrains of Afghanistan since its invasion in 2001. Though most of its troops withdrew after 2011, the US still has around 14,000 troops present in Afghanistan. Apart from this, 17,000 more troops from 39 NATO member states are also stationed in the country.