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US Military Acknowledged Airstrike in Afghanistan on Thanksgiving Killed Civilians

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US Military Acknowledged Airstrike in Afghanistan on Thanksgiving Killed Civilians

2019-12-02 18:48:55

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer: Image: Donald Trump with U.S. military (Image source: Screenshot)

Donald Trump's surprise Thanksgiving visit to Afghanistan came with many questions. One is why he declared that the Taliban and Afghanistan are ready for a cease-fire when they have indicated that's not the case. Especially when on that very same day, U.S. forces were conducting an airstrike on Afghanistan, one that killed casualties. 

The U.S. military command in Afghanistan admitted they are aware of the allegations of civilian deaths after an airstrike that was targeting Taliban fighters in Khost province's Terezayi near the Pakistan border.

A U.S. military statement said, "We are aware of the allegations of civilian casualties and working with local authorities to determine the veracity of these claims," adding that the strike was targeting thee Taliban fighters. 

Janmir Zazai, a local politician from Khost, said the airstrike hit a vehicle, but he was not aware of how many were killed. The U.N. recorded record numbers of civilians killed and wounded this year. Just up to October, it was determined that airstrikes had already increased to nearly a third over all of 2018.

The U.S. military's airstrike campaign has increased since last year, despite peace talk negotiations between the United States, the Taliban, and Afghanistan. 

On Thanksgiving Day, the same day as the U.S. airstrikes that killed civilians, Trump visited troops in Afghanistan and announced that the Taliban "wants to make a deal. And we're meeting with them, and we're saying it has to b a cease-fire."

"They don't want to do a cease-fire, but now they do want to do a cease-fire," he added. "It will probably work out that way. ... We've made tremendous progress. 

Negotiations were moving along, with all sides getting ready to sign a draft agreement that declared cease-fire discussions were to be left to future negotiations between the Taliban and Afghanistan leaders. The Taliban said in a statement, "We are ready to talk, but we have the same stance to resume the talks from where it was suspended."

A spokesman for Afghanistan leader Ashraf Ghani said that while Trump's Thanksgiving day visit was "important," "we will have to see" whether it affected the peace talks. "It is too early to comment on any changes or any perceived changes," he added. 

"As the president said, we are restarting talks with the Taliban. The focus will be on reducing violence," said a senior Trump administration official. "If an agreement can be reached, the two sides could potentially expand the talks and pave the way for signing a peace agreement."

Negotiations were moving along and all were getting ready to sign a draft agreement that declared cease-fire discussions were to be left to future negotiations between the Taliban and Afghanistan leaders. All sides were going to meet secretly at the U.S. presidential retreat of Camp David. Trump received much criticism, and after the Taliban admitted to an attack that killed a dozen people, including a  U.S service member, Trump abruptly canceled the plans to meet. 

it seems the hangup is the cease-fire that the Taliban "very strongly resisted," and "it's their best leverage," said s person familiar with the negotiations. "They have no reason to trade that chit in now, especially at a time where U.S. leverage is a wasting asset, and they believe they're winning on the battlefield. And Trump has committed to a drawdown of forces regardless, so why would the Taliban offer up a cease-fire now?"

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