At the direction of President Donald Trump, the U.S. military has ramped up the number of air and ground attacks against the Taliban, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Friday.

“We did step up our attacks on the Taliban since the [peace] talks broke down," Esper told reporters while returning from visits to Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and Louisville, Kentucky. “The president spoke about this publicly. We did pick up the pace considerably."

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WASHINGTON/KABUL (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday the United States would withdraw about $100 million earmarked for an energy infrastructure project in Afghanistan and withhold a further $60 million in planned assistance, blaming corruption and a lack of transparency in the country.

Pompeo said in a statement the United States would complete the infrastructure project, but would do so using an "'off-budget' mechanism", faulting Afghanistan for an "inability to transparently manage U.S. government resources".

"Due to identified Afghan government corruption and financial mismanagement, the U.S. Government is returning approximately $100 million to the U.S. Treasury that was intended for a large energy infrastructure project," he added.

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DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando.

The distance between Resolute Support headquarters and the Afghan presidential palace in Kabul can’t be more than 50 feet, yet it is too dangerous to walk across the street from one to the other.

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ISAF

The top religious clerics of Afghanistan issued a fatwa banning the use of suicide attacks as going against Islamic law on Monday, before being attacked by a suicide bomber roughly an hour later.

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Rahmat Gul/Associated Press

Gunmen disguised as U.S. military personnel and wearing explosives-laden suicide vests engaged Afghan security forces in a two-hour siege of the national police headquarters in Kabul on Wednesday, U.S. and Afghan officials announced. One responding Afghan police officer was killed and five were wounded, the Washington Post reports.

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Army photo / Capt. Brian Harris.

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.

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