U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis will meet Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli next week in Brussels and discuss the situation in Afrin and Manbij. Mattis said the situation in the Syrian town has not changed despite the Turkish pressure. Mattis described Ankara’s rhetoric on Manbij as something very concerning for the U.S. and he added that operation in Manbij is a distraction from the fight against Daesh. The Obama administration previously had promised Ankara that once Manbij was cleared of Daesh, the YPG would leave the town, but YPG-affiliated commanders are still in the town, according to Turkey government.
Speaking to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, the US Secretary of Defense James Mattis has warned that President Donald Trump is prepared to take whatever actions are necessary if Washington’s efforts fail to work with Pakistan in Afghanistan. Relations and ties between Islamabad and Washington have deteriorated since President Trump announced the new US strategy for South Asia and strongly criticized Pakistan for sheltering the terrorist groups. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States General Joseph Dunford has confirmed that the military intelligence of Pakistan’s military, Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), has connections with the terror group. However, Islamabad has repeatedly rejected the allegations although in some stances the country’s senior officials have admitted the presence of some of the notorious terrorist networks and leaders, including Haqqani network.
US Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, and NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg renewed their commitment to Afghanistan during their visit to Kabul on Wednesday. During joint press conference with President Ashraf Ghani at the Presidential Palace, Mattis and Stoltenberg pledged the support of US and NATO allies to the ongoing conflict in the country. They expressed determination to stop the country from becoming a safe haven for terrorists. President Ghani, while jointly briefing newsmen, said, “we want to pursue peace on two fronts; first, peace with Pakistan, through state-to-state dialogue and second we seek inter-Afghan peace process. It is proven fact that no one can impose their will on the people of Afghanistan through war”. He insisted that peace will also pave the way for strong defense against international terrorism and economic development. “I call on our neighbors, near and far, from India to Russia, to participate in regional reconciliation, in order to bring regional stability”, he said, adding, “combating terrorism effectively requires a regional and global consensus, and this risk must be taken serious”.
More than 3,000 additional US troops are on their way to Afghanistan in line with President Donald Trump’s new strategy, media reports said on Tuesday. Defense Secretary James Mattis told a news conference at the Pentagon he had signed the order to send more troops to the war-torn country at the end of last month. Mattis did not give precise numbers but said he was sending “over 3,000” troops to Afghanistan. Some 11,000 American forces are already stationed in the country. ‘Most of them are on their way or under orders now,’ Mattis said, ‘and I’d prefer not to give any more information that helps the enemy.’ Top military brass at the Pentagon have been calling the current situation in Afghanistan a ‘stalemate,’ and asking for more troops. The decision to send in more troops caps President Donald Trump’s change of heart on how to deal with the Afghanistan conflict, America’s longest war. Before his election last year, candidate Trump had routinely called for a full U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.