Winter fighting took heavy toll on Afghan forces

Some eight militants of the Islamic State (IS) group were killed after an unmanned US plane fired a missile at a running vehicle in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar, the provincial government said Monday.

Stoltenberg told the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag in an interview published on April 30 that in view of the "challenging" security situation, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation could increase the number of personnel in Afghanistan from the current 13,000, although he did not give a specific figure.

3,000 is the base figure, and some of the plans reportedly go as high as another 5,000 ground troops for Afghanistan, along with an unspecified number of special forces troops on top of that.

Levels of violence have traditionally dipped over Afghanistan's cold winter months, but this year the Taliban continued to battle government forces, most successfully in a horrific April 19 attack on a military base outside the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

The ISIS and Taliban insurgents also suffered heavy casualties during the clash, the statement said, adding that 21 Taliban insurgents and seven ISIS militants killed while nine others from the both sides were wounded.

- Preventing insurgents from increasing their control or influence of districts continues to be a challenge for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF).

He and General Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command, requested additional troops be sent to Afghanistan from the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

One of the most curious aspects of President Donald Trump's foreign policy has been his absence of a clearly articulated view - much less a strategy - on Afghanistan, where 8,400 US troops are still helping fight a war.

A senior Afghan defense official also told the Military Times that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was considering deploying up to 13,000 troops into the country.

Soldiers at Camp Nathan Smith, a US base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, bow their heads at a memorial service for Army Spc. Traffickers provide weapons, funding, and material support to the insurgency in exchange for protection, while insurgent leaders traffic drugs to finance their operations.

Despite all the problems, with Trump vowing to "eradicate" Islamic State and the USA wanting to shore up the Afghan government, the administration may have little choice than to maintain or boost military support, analysts say.

"It is civilians, with increasing numbers of women and children, who far too often bear the brunt of the conflict", Yamamoto said at the time. Afghanistan remains the world's largest opium producer, producing an estimated 80 percent of the world's heroin.

  • Joey Payne