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People inspect a damaged home in Kabul on Nov. 21 after several rockets struck the city. Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

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.”

Go deeper

U.S. considering closing Iraqi embassy after rocket attack

Iraqi police forces stand guard near the US Embassy in Baghdad on Monday, a day after several rockets were fired into Baghdad's Green Zone. Photo: Ameer Al Mohammedaw/picture alliance via Getty Images

The United States is considering quickly closing its embassy in Baghdad after a series of rocket attacks on Iraq's Green Zone by Iranian-backed militias, according to two sources familiar with the discussions.

Why it matters: The move, among several options being considered, could be a prelude to retaliation against Iran, which President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have highlighted as a state sponsor of terror. "Some friendly health advice to Iran: If one American is killed, I will hold Iran responsible. Think it over," the president tweeted Wednesday afternoon.

46 mins ago - World

Netanyahu campaigns against Biden's plan to save Iran deal

Netanyahu campaigns at a gym last month. Photo: Pool/AFP via Getty

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indirectly criticized the Biden administration for its intention to return to the Iran nuclear deal and told his supporters he was prepared to "stand against the entire world" to stop it.

Why it matters: This is a major change of tune for Netanyahu, who had been careful in his statements on the Iran deal and avoided publicly criticizing President Biden. The statement was part of Netanyahu's attempt to rally his base ahead of Israel's election on March 23.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Tech: "Fludemic" model accurately maps COVID hotspotsVirtual doctor's visits and digital health tools take off.
  2. Politics: Schumer says Senate will stay through weekend to vote on COVID relief — Republican governor of West Virginia says there's no plan to lift mask mandate.
  3. World: Canada vaccine panel recommends 4 months between doses.
  4. Business: Firms develop new ways to inoculate the public.
  5. Local: Ultra-rich Florida community got vaccinations in January.