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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

15 hours ago - World

Saudi Arabia and Qatar near deal to end standoff, sources say

Qatar's prime minister (R) attends the 2019 Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Saudi Arabia. Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP via Getty

Saudi Arabia and Qatar are close to a deal to end the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf following U.S.-mediated reconciliation talks this week, sources familiar with the talks tell me.

Why it matters: Restoring relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar would bring a sense of stability back to the Gulf after a 3.5 year standoff. It could also notch a last-minute achievement for the Trump administration before Jan. 20.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
9 hours ago - Technology

TikTok gets more time (again)

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The White House is again giving TikTok's Chinese parent company more to satisfy national security concerns, rather than initiating legal action, a source familiar with the situation tells Axios.

The state of play: China's ByteDance had until Friday to resolve issues raised by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS), which is chaired by Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin. This was the company's third deadline, with CFIUS having provided two earlier extensions.

Federal judge orders Trump administration to restore DACA

DACA recipients and their supporters rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on June 18. Photo: Drew Angerer via Getty

A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to fully restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, giving undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children a chance to petition for protection from deportation.

Why it matters: DACA was implemented under former President Obama, but President Trump has sought to undo the program since taking office. Friday’s ruling will require Department of Homeland Security officers to begin accepting applications starting Monday and guarantee that work permits are valid for two years.