Top officials say US must confront Russia for arming Taliban

Army Gen. John Nicholson, the top American commander in Afghanistan, stood beside Mattis as he confirmed Russia's material support for the Taliban.

The raid, the deadliest-ever by the Taliban on a military base, underscores their growing strength more than 15 years after they were ousted from power.

"This was an attack on the soldiers as they were returning from prayer".

Meanwhile, the Afghan army is preparing for what is expected to be a year of hard fighting against Taliban militants, who now control or contest more than 40 percent of the country.

General Nicholson was referring to the US military dropping America's most powerful non-nuclear bomb on ISIL targets in east Afghanistan two weeks ago.

It is unclear how the attack will affect Afghan recruiting efforts, already strained by casualties and retention rates among the ranks.

Officials told TRT World that the death toll from the assault has climbed to 170.

In late March, Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of CENTCOM, said that it's "fair to assume" Russian Federation is sending weapons to the Taliban.

"We should always look for solutions to problems, and therefore I have decided that there should be another guardian standing guard", Habibi told reporters. Shahim also said he stepped down voluntarily.

The commanders of four army corps were also replaced, according to the presidency's official Twitter account.

U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said there was an ongoing inter-agency review to determine the goals and milestones for the United States in Afghanistan.

"You will not see an improvement in a society if you do not have a punishment and reward policy", he said.

US officials have said the 21,600-pound bomb, known as the "mother of all bombs", successfully destroyed the ISIS defensive fighting position in Nangarhar Province. "That really occurred starting late a year ago, beginning through this process they've been undertaking", Nicholson said.

The Taliban has pledged that the attack is just the beginning of its annual spring offensive.

At least 140 Afghan soldiers were killed in a Taliban attack on a military base near Mazar-i-Sharif on Friday, the deadliest such attack against a military target since the start of the war in Afghanistan in 2001.

In another apparent Taliban strike, a auto bomb exploded Monday outside Camp Chapman, a base used by the USA military and others.

The teamwork between the USA and Afghan governments, their diplomats and their global military contingents has achieved high levels of partnership, the secretary said. In 2009, seven Central Intelligence Agency officers were killed there in a suicide bomb attack.

That advice, he added, will go not only to the president, but also to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation secretary general and all the troop-contributing nations with which the United States coordinates and collaborates. North Atlantic Treaty Organisation personnel were on base but were not effected by the attack, according the USA military.

The Afghan defense forces largely responsible for waging the war have suffered from desertions, corruption and defections.

Asked about the massive airstrike in Nangarhar Province, Nicholson said, "We were sending a very clear message to ISIS, not only ISIS in Afghanistan but ISIS main, if they come here to Afghanistan they will be destroyed". "Some of them had not taken a rifle in their hand in their lifetime".

Former President Barack Obama had wanted to reduce the number of USA troops in Afghanistan before he left office. One contingent helps advise the Afghan security forces while the other carries out unilateral and partnered counterterrorism operations against groups such as the Islamic State and al-Qaida. In addition to the United States troops, there are roughly 5,000 North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops in Afghanistan split between various areas of responsibility.

The US has about 9,800 troops in Afghanistan. At the height of the war, there were more than 100,000 troops in the country.

  • Leroy Wright