As the war in Afghanistan enters its 20th year, the Taliban, which previously committed to a ceasefire with American forces following the efforts of former President Donald Trump to bring peace to the region, has begun an onslaught on U.S. forces with a volley of rocket attacks.
On Wednesday, the Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack on Kandahar Airfield, where hundreds of American and coalition troops are currently stationed. The Pentagon confirmed the attack did not cause any casualties.
Speaking to the press, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby condemned the attack and said that the “Taliban’s decision to provoke even more violence in Afghanistan remains disruptive to the opportunity for peace presented by ongoing negotiations.”
Asked how the United States intended to respond to the attack, the Pentagon spokesperson said that it intends to commit to “supporting a diplomatic process.”
“We always have the right of self-defense for our troops, but our focus right now is on supporting a diplomatic process here to try to bring this war to a negotiated end with an enduring peace,” said Kirby.
Asked if the attack was intended to undermine ongoing peace efforts, Kirby admitted that the Pentagon did not understand the Taliban’s motives.
“I can’t deliver a comprehensive analysis of what we believe they were trying to achieve or what message they were trying to send,” he said, adding that the United States intends to make further assessments before making any operational decisions.
On Twitter, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid described U.S. forces as the “enemy,” and claimed that the Taliban rockets “have hit targets, causing heavy human and material losses.”
Under Trump, the Taliban negotiated a pullout of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan by May 2021. Prior to this week's attack, the Taliban had fully committed to a ceasefire and refrained from performing any outright attacks on the U.S. or coalition forces for more than a year since the peace agreement was established.
The attack follows President Joe Biden’s failure to withdraw U.S. troops according to the timeline set by the Trump administration. Biden has thus far wavered on the plan to leave, stating in an interview with ABC that the deadline would be “tough” to meet.