US turns down Russia invitation to Afghan peace conference

According to U.S. estimates, government forces control less than 60 percent of Afghanistan, with nearly half the country either contested or under the control of the Taliban, which is seeking to re-impose Islamic law after their 2001 ouster.

"When an invitation is extended to us, only then we can consider it and comment on it", he said.

In recent months, the Taleban has steadily increased control over large swathes of the country, prompting Gen Nicholson to suggest that thousands more troops are needed to help better train the Afghan military and reverse the "stalemate" in the country.

The enduring weakness of Afghan forces has been an ongoing concern for the country's global backers.

"Pakistan's reluctance to end its support for terrorism underpins the continuation of violence in Afghanistan and the region".

Afghan government forces on Thursday withdrew from Sangin, a town in the volatile province of Helmand, ceding territory to the fundamentalist group amid conflicting claims over the scale and circumstances of the militants' advance.

"After a month of battle, (the Taliban) captured the entire district including Sangin district center, police headquarter and other key outposts", Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousof Ahmadi, said in a statement.

He said that while the fall of Sangin was a "major event" that the Taliban had fought towards for some time, its significance in the wider war shouldn't be exaggerated.

He noted that the Kremlin had become "more assertive" in Afghanistan previous year, and that Russian Federation was attempting to undermine US efforts in the country.

Mujahid did not outright deny reports that his group may attend a Moscow meeting, if invited. The group "has taken over a major urban space in one of its major stronghold provinces, amplifying the major threat that the group poses to Afghanistan almost 16 years after it was removed from power".

The worldwide community believes Pakistan is the one country which has some leverage over the Taliban and so is crucial to any political settlement between the Taliban and the Afghanistan government.

"Right now we see them very focused on trying to establish their caliphate, the Khorasan caliphate, inside Afghanistan", Gen. John Nicholson. told NBC News.

Kabulov in 2015 said that Russian Federation was exchanging information with the Taliban and saw shared interest with them when it comes to fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The region is remote and not accessible to reporters. Security officials warn that 2017 may be even tougher than a year ago, when both Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital of Helmand, and the northern city of Kunduz came close to falling.

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  • Leroy Wright