Taliban launches suicide assault against Bagram Air Base as negotiations resume

The Taliban attacked Bagram Air Base using a suicide truck bomb and armed fighters today, just as the US and the Taliban have reopened negotiations that would allow the US to extricate itself from Afghanistan.

The fighting at Bagram remained ongoing at the time of this report.

In a statement released on its official website, Voice of Jihad, the Taliban claimed credit for the attack. The Taliban statement detailed the suicide assault, a tactic honed by al Qaeda and successfully adopted by the Taliban over the years.

“[A] martyrdom seeker detonated his explosives-laden truck next to the wall of an American base resulting in a large portion of the infrastructure destroyed and a path opened for others to enter the base,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid wrote at Voice of Jihad. “A group of martyrdom-seekers armed with heavy and light weapons, incendiary weapons and explosives vests managed to reach the barracks, sleeping quarters and other military targets and begin engaging the invaders in close combat.”

Resolute Support, NATO’s command in Afghanistan, confirmed the attack at Bagram and noted the Taliban struck “a medical facility being constructed to help the Afghan people who live near the base.”

“The attack was quickly contained and repelled,” Resolute Support claimed, despite the fact that press reports indicate that the fighting is ongoing.

At least two civilians were killed and 73 more people were wounded, according to TOLONews. “[T]hree insurgents had been killed, one had been arrested, and three were still active,” the Afghan news outlet reported.

Today’s Taliban assault in Kabul is the latest in a series of suicide operations that have targeted US, Coalition and Afghan forces. One such attack, a suicide bombing near a National Directorate of Security checkpoint in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Sept. 5, killed one US and one Romanian solider. President Donald Trump used that attack as an excuse to scupper a so-called “peace deal” with the Taliban.

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has restarted negotiations with the Taliban despite the group’s refusal to negotiate with the Afghan government or call for a cease fire. The Taliban has publicly stated its goals of the so-called “peace talks” is the complete withdrawal of US forces and the re-establishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the official name of the Taliban’s government.

Khalilzad has refused to hold the Taliban to account for conducting attacks such as the one today at Bagram. In the past, he has used such attacks to urge the Taliban to accelerate talks.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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