Kabul, Afghanistan — It was just after midnight on the morning of September 11 in Kabul when the sound of an explosion echoed across the capital. A couple of phone calls confirmed that a rocket had blown up inside the compound of the U.S. Embassy. Mercifully no one was hurt.
It was the first incident since President Trump abruptly announced that the U.S. peace talks with the Taliban were off.
“They’re dead. They’re dead,” Mr. Trump wrote. “As far as I’m concerned they’re dead.”
In response, the Taliban has doubled down.
“We had two ways to end occupation in Afghanistan, one was jihad and fighting, the other was talks and negotiations,” spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said. “If Trump wants to stop talks, we will take the first way and they will soon regret it.”
The Taliban’s fight against Afghan and coalition forces had already ratcheted up significantly in the past two weeks, and that was during the peace talks in Doha.
Deputy Interior Minister General Khoshal Sadat told CBS News the Taliban has suffered “hundreds” of casualties in the last 10 days, after the militants launched major offensives across three provinces.
That claim was backed up by sources CBS News contacted at Resolute Support, the U.S.-led NATO mission in Afghanistan.
But the fighting has only intensified, and it’s now likely to escalate significantly more.
The country faces a presidential election on September 28. The Taliban has targeted elections in the past, and they’ve threatened to go on the attack again, warning voters to stay away from the polls or face the consequences.
The Afghan government’s chief executive and second in command, Abdullah Abdullah, told us this week that the country is entering one of the most dangerous and unpredictable periods in its history.
Eighteen years into the war sparked by the September 11 terror attacks, more than 2,400 American service members have been killed in Afghanistan, along with more than 1,000 NATO allies. Thousands more have been wounded.
The Afghan government stopped revealing the extent of their own military casualties long ago, because it was damaging troop morale.
The civilian death toll numbers in the tens of thousands, and in a tragic twist, the U.S. and its allies, including the Afghan forces, have been linked to more civilians deaths this year than the Taliban.