Rocket strikes kill at least 8 in Kabul
Multiple rockets struck Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, early on Saturday, killing at least eight people and injuring more than two dozen, according to the New York Times.
Why it matters: The rocket attack occurred just hours before Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was scheduled to meet with Afghan and Taliban negotiators in Qatar in an attempt to end roughly two decades of fighting.
- At least 163 civilians have been killed across Afghanistan in November alone, according to the New York Times.
The big picture: The rocket strikes also come just days after Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller announced the U.S. would draw down its troop levels in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 by Jan. 15, 2021.
- Afghan officials, including President Ashraf Ghani, are wary of an expedited U.S. exit and hope that President-elect Biden maintains a military presence in the country.
- Biden has previously said he would maintain troops in the country, primarily for special operations against ISIS and other terror threats.
Context: The Trump administration signed a deal with the Taliban in February that called for a U.S. troop withdrawal contingent on peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
- The Taliban in turn promised not to allow terror groups like al-Qaeda to use Afghanistan as a base of operations.
What they're saying: Afghanistan's chief peace envoy Abdullah Abdullah said Saturday that the U.S. move to start pulling troops out has come too soon, per an interview with the AP.
- “This is the decision of the U.S administration and we respect it,” Abdullah said. “Our preference would have been that with the conditions improving, this should have taken place.”