Mattis signals ongoing commitment to the Afghan war

Mattis signals ongoing commitment to the Afghan war

The strength of the Afghan security forces has declined sharply over the a year ago, a United States government watchdog has said amid reports of desertions and high casualty rates.

"This is the normal stuff by people who can not win at the ballot box, so they turn to bombs", Mattis said when asked about a day of bloodshed in Afghanistan that left dozens dead, including many children and journalists.

"Well stand by the Afghan people, well stand by the Afghan government and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation mission will continue as we drive them to a political settlement", Mattis said. "We knew there would be tough fighting going forward".

About 14.5 percent of the country's total districts "were under insurgent control or influence - the highest level recorded since SIGAR began receiving district control data", according to the report.

The report said more of the population was falling under the control of militant groups including the Taliban. The country has seen a relentless string of large-scale bombings and assaults recently — and another attack Monday killed 11 children and wounded eight Romanian NATO soldiers.

No comments have been received from the anti-government armed militant groups including Taliban militants in connection with this report by far.

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On Monday, twin attacks claimed by the IS in the capital left 30 people dead, including nine journalists and photographers.

The BBC said one of its Afghan reporters, Ahmad Shah, was killed the same day in a separate attack in the eastern Khost province.

The United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation have been attempting for the last 17 years to build the capacity of Afghan security forces so that it is able to defend and hold territory.

Mattis, when asked how to reconcile the bombings with recent Pentagon statements suggesting an improving outlook, said he would "not subscribe to that" line of thinking.

The Afghan military was being made more capable, he said, adding numerous personnel were special forces, advised, assisted and accompanied by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation mentors.

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