Ghazni remains a hotbed of Taliban activity in southeastern Afghanistan, and the US military has been forced to deploy units there to prevent its collapse.
The US military’s official estimate of the number of fighters in the Taliban’s ranks needs to be at least doubled given the level and intensity of fighting in Afghanistan, as well as the number of Taliban casualties claimed by the Afghan security forces.
The US military is clearly targeting Shabaab in Mudug province. There have been five strikes there in the past four days and 50 Shabaab fighters are reported to have been killed in the attacks.
The pattern of the strikes, which took place in central Somalia, indicates that al Qaeda’s branch in East Africa either has an established base in the area, or that it was massing its fighters for a large scale attack.
The Taliban confirmed that it met with a high-level delegation of US officials in Qatar, and quashed news reports that the group wanted the Afghan government to postpone the April 2019 presidential elections and establish an interim government.
The Taliban is more than happy to negotiate the terms of US withdrawal — but if and only if an accord is reached on its terms. Because if a so-called peace agreement can be reached, you can be sure it will be one that will not benefit the Afghan people, the US, or the region.
While the Treasury designation focuses on the four Iraqis’ links to Hezbollah, which is described as “a terrorist proxy for the Iranian regime that seeks to undermine Iraqi sovereignty and destabilize the Middle East,” it practically ignores the fact that one of them is the Secretary General of the Imam Ali Battalions, or Kata’ib Imam Ali, a key component of the Popular Mobilization Forces, an official military arm of the Iraqi state that reports directly to the prime minister.
Another company of the elite Special Forces commandos was overrun, this time in the once impenetrable district of Jaghuri in Ghazni province. Afghan forces are being besieged by the Taliban on a daily basis.