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Trump defense head says US has stepped up attacks on Taliban since talks broke down

05 Oct 2019 TheHill

Defense Secretary Mark Esper has said that U.S. has increased its attacks on the Taliban since peace talks were canceled last month. 

"We did step up our attacks on the Taliban since the talks broke down.  You know, the president spoke about this publicly," Esper told reporters. "We did pick up the pace considerably." 

He declined to quantify how significantly attacks had increased, but said this included both air attacks U.S. assisted Afghan ground operations. 

"We did pick up the pace of attacks...with regard to both air and ground," Esper said. 

Trump said last month that he had canceled negotiations with leaders of the Taliban and Afghanistan's president after the insurgent group claimed an attack in Kabul that killed a U.S. service member and 11 others. 

"I immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations. What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position?" he tweeted at the time. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in interviews that aired the next day that talks with the Taliban were dead "for the time being" and  that "applying military pressure to the Taliban is necessary" for the negotiations.

"We've killed over 1,000 Taliban in just the last 10 days, so it has not been the case that we've been negotiating with our hands tied behind our back," he said last month. 


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