United States military officials earlier this morning confirmed that they’ve launched an airstrike against the Taliban in Afghanistan mere days after President Donald Trump boasted about brokering a peace deal with the group.
A military spokesman told the press that the decision to launch the airstrike was made to interrupt a planned attack on a checkpoint run by the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF).
“The US conducted an airstrike Wednesday against Taliban fighters in Nahr-e Saraj, Helmand, who were actively attacking an #ANDSF checkpoint. This was a defensive strike to disrupt the attack. This was our 1st strike against the Taliban in 11 days,” U.S. Forces in Afghanistan Spokesman Colonel Sonny Leggett wrote on Twitter, adding that the Taliban “conducted 43 attacks” on ANDSF checkpoints on March 3rd alone.
On March 3rd alone, the Taliban conducted 43 attacks on #ANDSF checkpoints in #Helmand. The Taliban claim to be fighting to free Afg. from int’l forces, the Feb 29 agreement provides a conditions-based path to withdrawal.
— USFOR-A Spokesman Col Sonny Leggett (@USFOR_A) March 4, 2020
News of the airstrike comes just days after the Trump administration and the Taliban signed an agreement to limit the U.S. presence in Afghanistan. Under the detail, the U.S. military committed to decreasing troop levels to 8,600 in 135 days as well as withdrawing from Afghanistan in 14 months should the Taliban “not allow any of its members, other individuals or groups, including al Qaeda, to use the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies.” Additionally, the Taliban vowed “not to cooperate” with those who threaten the U.S. or its interests in the territory under its control.
Military officials told CNN that at least 25 Afghan soldiers were killed and 13 others were injured in three separate Taliban attacks. Hours before the attack, President Trump had spoken to Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar over the phone, later telling reporters they’d had “a very good talk.”
“I had a very good talk with the leader of the Taliban. We’ve agreed there’s no violence. We don’t want violence,” he said at the time. “We’ll see what happens. They’re dealing with Afghanistan. But we’ll see what happens.”
Trump says today he had a "very good talk" with the leader of the Taliban, adds, "We had a good conversation, we have agreed there's no violence, we don't want violence."
Reminder: 1,856 US servicemembers have been killed in violent conflict with the Taliban since 2001. pic.twitter.com/dQAdwTZoPo
— Oliver Willis (@owillis) March 3, 2020
The president now faces heated criticism for what many are characterizing as a major foreign policy failure.
The US hit the Taliban with an air strike only hours after the call between Trump and the Taliban. I don’t think this is how peace deals work, Donald.
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) March 4, 2020
The Taliban conducted more than 40 attacks on the same day Trump made these warm comments about their leadership https://t.co/DSaUagkxbq
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 4, 2020
I see Trump's peace deal with the Taliban is progressing just swimmingly. https://t.co/ODZ5i2KHAL
— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) March 4, 2020
We signed a peace deal with the Taliban on Saturday, then attack it on Tuesday. Logic so absurd and PR-driven could only come from Donald Trump. https://t.co/fCWEY4hOTW
— Publius (@ThePubliusUSA) March 4, 2020
In 2012, Trump criticized former President Barack Obama for “negotiating with our sworn enemy the Taliban.”
While @BarackObama is slashing the military, he is also negotiating with our sworn enemy the Taliban–who facilitated 9/11.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 13, 2012
The Taliban has not commented on the U.S. strike, though Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told The Associated Press “that a week of reduction in violence that started midnight on Feb. 21 had ended.”