Obama approves more aggressive Taliban fight

First US troops arrived in Afghanistan 15 years ago, after Taliban refused to turn over 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.

Published: 10th June 2016 09:11 PM  |   Last Updated: 10th June 2016 09:11 PM   |  A+A-


WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama has ordered the US military to more directly take on the Taliban, again ratcheting up a 15-year conflict that he came to office vowing to end.

"US forces will more proactively support Afghan conventional forces," a senior administration official told AFP.

The official, who asked not to be named, detailed plans to provide more close air support and, significantly, to accompany Afghan forces on the battlefield.

Obama came to office in 2008 promising to end one of America's longest ever wars.

The first US troops arrived in Afghanistan 15 years ago, after the Taliban refused to turn over 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.

There are still 9,800 US troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak of around 100,000 in March 2011.

Forces on the ground today are mainly confined to ministries or bases, with only special forces assisting their Afghan counterparts on the battlefield.

The campaign to neutralize the Taliban has suffered multiple setbacks as Obama enters the twilight of his presidency.

Afghan security forces still struggle in the face of fierce Taliban assaults.

Meanwhile diplomatic efforts to engage the Taliban have broken down completely.

Last month the United States killed Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour in a drone strike in Pakistan.

Obama then warned that the organization's new leadership would fight on.

"We anticipate the Taliban will continue an agenda of violence," he said during a visit to Japan.

Obama's latest troop decision would appear to push any brokered solution well beyond his presidency.

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