Attack on a government office compound in Kabul kills 43, injures 10. (The headline of this story appears to be wrong, but these are the numbers from the body of the report.) No claim of responsibility as yet, but Abdullah blames the Taliban. This comes as the announcement of a troop drawdown by the U.S president has rattled officials, although General Miller says he has yet to receive any orders to withdraw troops.
JCS Chair Dunford says the reports of a U.S. withdrawal are “rumors,” which seems an odd way of describing the Commander in Chief’s Twitter feed. In any case he also says he has received no orders.
Afghanistan’s presidential election, originally scheduled for April, will be postponed for several months, ostensibly to address technical problems that emerged in the recent parliamentary elections.
The Afghan government says it will send a delegation to Jeddah where the U.S. and Taliban representatives have been engaging in peace negotiations. However, the Taliban have so far refused to talk directly with the Kabul government.
The Iranian government says it has been talking with the Taliban as an Iranian representative visits Kabul. The subject matter of the discussions was not disclosed.
The Afghan military says it has repulsed an attack in Faryab. Two Afghan soldiers were killed in the fighting and two shops caught fire, while 12 militants are said to have been killed.
In Iraq, after the CinC announced the withdrawal from Syria, the U.S. has established two new bases in Anbar. These are said to be intended to protect against incursion of IS forces from Syria.
A year after the reconquest of Mosul, rebuilding is slow and militants remain in hiding.
IS no longer holds any significant territories, but deadly attacks continue throughout the country. Last month, a school bus rolled over an explosive on a road south of Mosul, killing four children and wounding seven. A car bomb killed three people at a restaurant in the city, and security forces say they still conduct near-daily operations seeking militants in hiding. . . .
Aid workers estimate a year and a half after the IS defeat in Mosul, roughly 1,500 bodies of militants and civilians are still buried under the crushed buildings. Two million people remain displaced, many unable to return to these destroyed homes.
Protests continue in Basra over poor services and unemployment.
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