Taliban assail Trump's rejection of talks, vow to fight on

Afghan volunteers carry bodies at the scene of a car bomb exploded in front of the old Ministry of Interior building in Kabul on Jan. 27 2018

Taliban assail Trump's rejection of talks, vow to fight on

The Taliban strengthened its hold over Afghanistan in the second half of past year, according to new USA military data released to CNN on Tuesday.

Following a string of massive deadly assaults in the capital Kabul this month, U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday announced Washington was not going to hold talks with the Taliban.

The increase, though incremental, is indicative of the Afghan army's loosening grip on the country in the face of a determined Taliban insurgency.

The restrictions seemed to contradict previous Pentagon assertions that it was striving to be more transparent about the US war campaigns across Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

In November, Gen. John Nicholson told Pentagon reporters that about 64 percent of the population was controlled by the government, 24 percent live in contested areas, and the Taliban control the remaining 12 percent. They're killing people left and right.

Both the Taliban and ISIS have claimed separate attacks in Kabul, including a siege at an worldwide hotel that killed 22 people as well as a devastating suicide bombing using an ambulance.

The special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, or SIGAR, said in a letter Tuesday the Department of Defense is at fault. In the last 10 days, hundreds have died or been injured in attacks in Kabul and elsewhere.

The war effort has sometimes faded from USA public attention, even though the US has invested about $120 billion in reconstructing Afghanistan since 2002.

That's not classified information, according to officials, but SIGAR says it was labeled "not releasable to the public".

"It's unfortunate that they only did so after the press started to ask questions".

"NATO will continue to stand with Afghans as they fight terrorism, and work to build peace and reconciliation", the NATO Secretary General added.

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