US President Trump has threatened to hit the Taliban harder than ever, following the collapse of peace talks between Washington and the militant group.
Speaking at a memorial service marking the September 11, 2001 terror attack, Trump said he stood by his campaign promise to end the 18-year US war in Afghanistan but the Taliban was not willing to cooperate towards reaching a peace deal.
“We had peace talks scheduled a few days ago,” he said at the Pentagon. “I called them off when I learned that they had killed a great American soldier from Puerto Rico and 11 other innocent people.”
The American president was referring to a secret meeting that he was scheduled to hold with Taliban leaders this Sunday in Camp David but called off on Saturday, following a deadly bombing attack that the group carried out in the capital Kabul two days earlier.
Upon announcing his decision, Trump said long-running talks with the Taliban in Qatar were also “dead,” to which the Taliban responded by threatening to kill more Americans in Afghanistan.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid stold AFP on Monday said Trump would come to regret his decision, arguing that the Taliban tried ending “occupation” of Afghanistan peacefully and now the only way to do it is by fighting.
According to a draft deal reached between Washington and the Taliban, America would withdraw around 5,000 of its forces from Afghanistan within less than five months in exchange for guarantees from Taliban that Afghanistan would never be used as a platform to attack the US and its allies.
Trump said Wednesday that the Taliban resorted to violence to get upper hand in the talks “but actually, what they showed is unrelenting weakness.”
He also pledged a firm response to any act of aggression from the militant group.
“If for any reason they come back to our country, we will go wherever they are and use power the likes of which the United States has never used before and I’m not even talking about nuclear power.”
“They will never have seen anything like what will happen to them,” he added.
Hours later, on early Thursday, a rocket exploded near the US Embassy in Kabul in an attack that was seemingly carried out by the Taliban. No one was hurt.
According to a report by Reuters on Wednesday, intense fighting was going on in several Afghan provinces on Wednesday as a result of what unnamed US security officials said was part of the “expected intensification” following the end of peace talks.
US President Trump, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the US Central Command have all confirmed that America is now hitting Taliban at the highest rate in the past years.
In recent days, “we have hit our enemy harder than they have ever been hit before, and that will continue,” Trump said during his 9/11 speech.