Although President Donald Trump has made clear that he wants U.S. troops to leave Syria as soon as possible, Defense Secretary James Mattis said on Monday that the president has not indicated he wants to withdraw from Afghanistan.
- “We’re there to do a job. We’re not there to stay forever,” Mattis told reporters Monday at the Pentagon. “The job comes first. As a matter of fact, we have a number of nations adding forces as we speak. The missions are on track.”
- ISIS has carried out suicide bombings in Kabul that have killed nearly 100 people within a week. A U.S. service member was killed Monday in Eastern Afghanistan and another service member wounded during combat.
- When asked if ISIS’ attacks in Kabul show that the terrorist group has the initiative, Mattis said emphatically: “No. They set off a bomb among innocent people.”
- The Taliban delayed announcing the start of their spring offensive until April 25 because they were “taken aback” by the U.S. commitment to stay in Afghanistan and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s offer for peace talks, Mattis said.
- “We anticipated that they would do their best to try to bring bombs right into Kabul,” he said. “This is the normal stuff by people who cannot win at the ballot box, so they turn to bombs. This should be completely expected. It’s what they do.”