afghanistan

Updated at 4:35 p.m. ET

The political squall over alleged Russian bounties targeting U.S. troops strengthened on Tuesday amid potent new reports and deepening partisan rancor about what Washington should do next.

The day began with criticism by House Democrats of President Trump after a briefing at the White House on the allegations, which left the lawmakers calling for more information directly from the intelligence community.

Updated at 9:51 p.m. ET

Members of Congress in both parties demanded answers on Monday about reported bounties paid by Russian operatives to Afghan insurgents for targeting American troops.

The stories appeared to have taken even the most senior lawmakers off guard, and they said they wanted briefings soon from the Defense Department and the intelligence community.

Two days after being sworn in for a second five-year term at a ceremony attended by senior U.S. officials, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has reversed his initial refusal to release Taliban prisoners prior to peace talks with the insurgents.

The International Criminal Court has cleared the way for its prosecutor to investigate possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, including those allegedly committed by U.S. forces and the CIA.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blasted the decision, calling it a "breathtaking action by an unaccountable political institution, masquerading as a legal body."

Updated 5:50 p.m. ET

Just days after the U.S. and Taliban announced the terms of a deal lauded as a foundation for peace, Afghanistan is once more embroiled in deadly violence.

Updated at 8:57 a.m. ET

Afghan forces, the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan and the Taliban militia will begin a seven-day "reduction in violence" across the country beginning Saturday midnight local time (2:30 p.m. ET Friday) — a possible prelude to a broader peace deal following two decades of war, according to U.S. and Afghan officials.

The quasi cease-fire was hammered out during protracted negotiations in Qatar that began in 2018. It could ultimately lead to a significant reduction of the approximately 12,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Updated 11:30 a.m. ET on Saturday

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper spoke Saturday about a newly reached deal between the U.S. and the Taliban to deescalate the longest-running war in American history.

The "reduction in violence" deal will take place over a seven-day period and ultimately will aim to bring the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan down to 8,600 from around 12,000 over the following months.

The 8,600 number will still include counterterrorism and training operations.

A 33-year-old U.S. Army Green Beret has become the 20th American service member to be killed by hostile fire this year in Afghanistan. His death on Monday makes it the deadliest year for U.S. forces since the official end of combat operations was declared in 2014.

Updated at 4 p.m. ET

During a surprise Thanksgiving Day visit to troops stationed in Afghanistan, President Trump said that his administration has reopened peace talks with the Taliban, nearly three months after he abruptly canceled them. Trump made the announcement at a rally staged at Bagram Airfield outside Kabul, where he exchanged handshakes and posed for photographs with U.S. troops.

When Aziz Rafiee heard that President Trump called off talks with the Taliban, he couldn't quite believe it. "My first question to myself was: What is really happening?" he says. Then Rafiee, who leads the Afghan Civil Society Forum in Kabul, says he felt a sense of relief.

And he says most of his friends also support Trump's decision.

The U.S. president's abrupt move over the weekend to scuttle a potential deal with the Taliban surprised many who had been following the multiple rounds of negotiations. It has also led to questions about what might come next.

Flags Lowered To Honor Ohio Soldier Killed In Afghanistan

Jul 31, 2019
J. Stephen Conn (Flickr)

Gov. Mike DeWine has ordered flags in parts of the state lowered to half-staff to honor an Ohio soldier killed in Afghanistan.

Updated at 9:08 a.m. ET Sunday

The Pentagon on Saturday identified two soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan as 29-year-old Spc. Joseph P. Collette of Lancaster, Ohio and Sgt. 1st Class Will D. Lindsay, 33, of Cortez, Colo.

The two were killed Friday in Kunduz province, Afghanistan, as a result of wounds sustained in combat, the Defense Department said. They were both based out of Fort Carson, Colo.

J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is pushing a bill in Congress to help veterans who might have been harmed by toxic emissions during deployment in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Five years ago, before he was a candidate for president, Donald Trump was pretty sure he knew what to do about Afghanistan. It was a losing proposition, "a complete waste" in terms of "blood and treasure."

"Why are we continuing to train these Afghanis who then shoot our soldiers in the back?" he asked on Twitter in 2012. "Afghanistan is a complete waste. Time to come home!"

More recently, candidate Trump was less certain about exactly when the U.S. should exit the struggle that he had railed against continuing.

Updated at 11:27 am ET

President Trump is set to deliver a prime-time address to the nation on Afghanistan Monday night. The speech marks a dramatic return for the president after his none-too-restful "working vacation."

The getaway was marked by another staff shakeup and controversy over Trump's remarks on the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.

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