Taliban destroys Afghan military outpost in Laghman

At least 27 Afghan soldiers were killed and nine more remain missing following a Taliban attack on an Afghan National Army outpost in the eastern province of Laghman on May 10.

The Taliban has relentlessly attacked Afghan security forces since the U.S. and the group signed an agreement on Feb 29. that sets the conditions for American forces to withdraw from the country.

When news of the Taliban attack on Afghan forces in Alishing district in Laghman broke yesterday, the Afghan military incorrectly claimed that only six soldiers were killed, that the assault was repulsed, and that the Taliban took “heavy casualties,” TOLONews reported.

A provincial official said the death toll for Afghan forces was much higher, with 22 killed. The Taliban, which claimed credit for the attack, put the number of Afghan forces killed at 24, but did not comment on its casualties.

A video released on Twitter by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid contradicted the Afghan military’s claim that the attack was beaten back. The video showed the burned out wreckage of more that a dozen military vehicles strewn outside of a military outpost. While the authenticity of the video cannot be independently verified, similar videos made by the Taliban in the past have proven to be authentic.

Alishing district is a known Taliban hotspot. Of Laghman’s five districts, Alishing and Alingar are assessed by FDD’s Long War Journal to be contested.

Attacks soar as U.S. officials continue to push for a “reduction in violence”

The attack in on the Afghan National Army in Alishing is but one of many by the Taliban since the Feb. 29 agreement was signed. The Taliban has been clear that it will continue to attack Afghan security forces after signing the withdrawal agreement.

The Taliban has increased its attacks on Afghan forces “by more than 70 percent between March 1 [the day after signing the so-called peace agreement with the U.S.] and April 15 compared with the same period a year ago,” Reuters reported.

The Taliban’s surge in attacks has piqued U.S. officials and military commanders. On May 2, General Colonel Sonny Leggett, the spokesman for U.S. Forces -Afghanistan and Resolute Support, released a letter to Taliban spokesman Mujahid calling for “restraint” and a “reduction in violence” in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Leggett, “General Miller also discussed with your military representatives in Doha the need for all sides to reduce violence …”

Mujahid responded by telling the U.S. military to “honor your own obligations.” The Taliban has accused the U.S. military of launching airstrikes against the group, which the U.S. military has denied.

U.S. officials have repeatedly claimed the Taliban has committed to a so-called “reduction in violence.” Leggett cited Miller’s discussion with Taliban commanders in Doha as evidence.

However, a discussion is not a commitment, and without the commitment in writing, Leggett, Miller, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and others berating the Taliban to honor its agreement have little to stand on.

There is nothing in the three and half page agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban that mentions a reduction on violence, let alone a ceasefire, as some U.S. officials are demanding. Because of this, the Taliban will continue military operations against the Afghan government.

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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