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Mattis: US, NATO must confront Russia on Taliban support
Defense Secretary James Mattis said Monday that the United States and NATO would have to confront Russia over its backing for the Taliban.
By Adam Widmer
Contributor
Jan 15, 2018

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WASHINGTON D.C. — Defense Secretary James Mattis said Monday that the United States and NATO would have to confront Russia over its backing for the Taliban.

Mattis' remarks came days after a massacre of Afghan troops inside a mosque and amid a review of the American strategy in Afghanistan.

Mattis was in Baghdad days after the Taliban insurgents attacked an Afghan army base and killed more than 140 soldiers and wounded dozens more.

The attack led to the resignation Monday of top Afghan defense officials.

The Defense Secretary's Afghan visit, which included meetings with the country's President Ashraf Ghani and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, was the last leg of a visit to the Middle East and Africa.

Mattis also met Monday with the top U.S and NATO commander, Army Gen. John Nicholson. Earlier this year, Gen. Nicholson said that he needs thousands of more troops to advise Afghan forces.

There are approximately 8,400 American troops in Afghanistan at the moment.

According to an anonymous Senior U.S military official, the Taliban have been receiving an increasing flow of arms, including machine guns, and funding from Russia.

Gen. Nicholson admitted receiving continuous intelligence reports of Russian assistance to the Taliban.

"We're going to have to confront Russia," Mattis said, adding that supplying the Taliban with weaponry would be in violation of international law.

U.S troops are also engaged in a counter-terrorism war against Islamic State fighters and al-Qaeda affiliates.

Earlier this month, Gen. Nicholson attacked ISIS fighters with the Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) one of the largest Conventional munitions in the United States arsenal.

The MOAB is also called the Mother of All Bombs.

Since early March, the US-led coalition has killed over 538 Islamic State fighters.

According to the unnamed U.S official, the strikes have decimated ISIS ranks from about 3,000 militants in 2005, to approximately 800 today.