The Telegraph (UK): Unfortunately for travellers, the [UK] Foreign Office deems the country too dangerous to visit. “Hotels and guesthouses used by foreign nationals and the government of Afghanistan are subject to regular threats,” its website warns… That’s not to say that some Britons aren’t ignoring the advice. Indeed, a handful of tour operators, such as Hinterland Travel, do run trips to the country. Here’s what’s attracting the intrepid few to Afghanistan… Click here for more (external link).
August 17, 2017
BEIJING — The top U.S. general says the Trump administration is very close to a long-term policy commitment to Afghanistan that will address a call by General John Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, for more international troops to end the stalemate between Afghan forces and the Taliban.
The comments come from General Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a day after a U.S. soldier was killed and another American and Afghan soldier were injured during a military operation against Islamic State militants in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province.
A military spokesman in Afghanistan told VOA the incident happened Wednesday during a joint operation against Islamic State militants in Afghanistan. This is the 10th death of a U.S. military member in Afghanistan this year, most of them killed during operations against Islamic State.
President Donald Trump heads to Camp David Friday to discuss a new strategy on the war in Afghanistan with his national security team.
Dunford told reporters during a visit to Beijing that he would be participating in the president’s discussion by teleconference.
“I’ll absolutely be there,” he said.
The rollout of the strategy has taken longer than some in Trump’s security team anticipated, with Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis telling Congress in June that he expected to brief them on the new plan by mid-July.
Dunford said U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan deserved an updated policy as they continue to support Afghan forces and battle Islamic State militants.
“That’s why we’ve spent so much time working through this,” he said. “We’re weighing the long-term commitment for Afghanistan, so I think it’s probably proper that we be deliberate.
Michael Hughes: The Taliban’s public relations stunt to flatter President Donald Trump into withdrawing troops from Afghanistan is crazy enough to work in light of the commander-in-chief’s long documented history of reacting positively to anyone – including rivals – who say anything positive about him. The Taliban in their “open letter” to Trump also lay out a cost-benefit equation that will likely make the dealmaker-in-chief cringe at the prospect of sinking billions into what looks like a bad investment. Click here to read more.
R744: This month national stakeholders, industry, civil society, government officials and international environment experts gathered in Kabul to raise awareness of and implement a national phase-out plan for HCFCs (hydrocholoflurocarbons) – an ODP substance that harms the ozone layer. Click here to read more (external link).
SARI PUL, Afghanistan, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) — Local Afghans and security forces discovered around 40 bodies in a mass grave in the northern Sari Pul province on Tuesday amid government forces’ cleanup operations in the troubled region.
Militants loyal to the Islamic State (IS) group and Taliban outfit have reportedly massacred more than 50 people, all civilians, including women and children, after overrunning the strategically important Mirza Olang district two weeks ago.
The IS group has claimed responsibility for the carnage and said in a statement that its fighters had killed 54 people in the troubled district during the onslaught.
Although, the Taliban group has rejected its involvement in the bloodshed, villagers said that both the Taliban and IS insurgents jointly attacked Mirza Olang and committed the “crimes against humanity.”
Most of the victims, according to locals and media reports, had been shot dead and some beheaded.
To clean up the area, the government forces launched a massive offensive over the weekend and recaptured the district of Mirza Olang on Tuesday.
“The security forces succeeded in evicting the rebels from Mirza Olang and restoring government control there following heavy bombardment and ground forces operations which lasted until Tuesday,” General Amanullah Mubin, commander of 209 Shaheen Corps based in the region, told the media.
People in the country have described the killing of civilians in Mirza Olang as carnage and strongly condemned it.
“Killing civilians including women and children is against the teaching of Islamic values and those behind the heinous crimes should be bring to justice,” Kabul resident Mohammad Asghar told Xinhua.
Sayed Musa, a resident of Mirza Olang district, expressed his hatred to insurgents, noting that the militants killed his son “mercilessly” although he had never taken up arms in his life.
Tolo News: Hearts were beating fast and fans were waiting enthusiastically to find out who won the title this year, when the jury announced Yasin Qaderi from Kabul as Mr Afghanistan 2017 following this year’s bodybuilding contest. Herat’s contestant took second place and Balkh’s gained third place in the competition. At least 321 bodybuilders from 27 provinces attended the four-day bodybuilding and fitness competition which started on August 12. Click here to read more (external link).
Tolo News: At least 321 bodybuilders from 27 provinces attended the four-day bodybuilding and fitness competition in Kabul on Tuesday. “The 12 Mr Afghanistan Championship will help improve bodybuilding in the country. It is held every year,” said Abdul Rahman Hamid, secretary general of the bodybuilding federation. Click here to read more (external link).
Tolo News: Three massive graves containing dozens of bodies have been found in Mirza Olang valley in northern Sar-e-Pul province following a coordinated attack by militants in the area last week. TOLO news reporter Samim Faramarz says that according to residents, the majority of those buried in these graves were civilians and some of them members of the public uprising forces but the bodies of three children, who were beheaded, were also recovered. 42 bodies so far have been removed from these graves, Faramarz said. Click here to read more (external link).
The New York Times: Mumtaz is a 23-year-old woman from the northern Afghan province of Kunduz, the victim of an acid attack when she was 18, whose tormentors were jailed. It was a rare legal victory in the struggle for women’s rights in Afghanistan, hailed at the time as proof that justice for female victims was possible. But as far as Mumtaz is concerned, justice has brought her nothing but tragedy. Click here to read more (external link).
The Intercept: …among local villagers, distrust of both the United States and President Ashraf Ghani’s U.S.-backed government runs high… “As usual, they had killed civilians and wanted to hide their crimes,” said Mustafa, a student from the village of Basakhel. “The U.S. is abusing our country as a playground for their weapons.” Click here to read more (external link).