The many targeted strikes that the Taliban have been able to inflict on the Afghan army in the past months are no surprise, according to General Nicholson, head of the US forces in the country.
Mr. Nicholson furthermore claims that he’s been witnessing "destabilizing activity by the Russians."
He claims to have proof that Russian armament is being smuggled in from the Tajik border into the hands of the Taliban
“We see a narrative that’s being used that grossly exaggerates the number of Islamic State group fighters here,” General Nicholson said.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The U.S. says Russia's support for the Taliban is hurting the peace process in Afghanistan <a href="https://t.co/kELukJdsDe">https://t.co/kELukJdsDe</a> <a href="https://t.co/8S5ob6HtqF">pic.twitter.com/8S5ob6HtqF</a></p>— CBS News (@CBSNews) <a href="https://twitter.com/CBSNews/status/976438276654551040?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 21, 2018</a></blockquote>
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“This narrative then is used as a justification for the Russians to legitimize the actions of Taliban and provide some degree of support to the Taliban.”
“We’ve had stories written by the Taliban that have appeared in the media about financial support provided by the enemy. We’ve had weapons brought to this headquarters and given to us by Afghan leaders and said, this was given by the Russians to the Taliban. We know that the Russians are involved.”
According to US intelligence, the Russian army does exercises on the Tajikistan border on purpose, leaving armaments for the Taliban to pick up afterward.
“These are counter-terrorism exercises, but we’ve seen the Russian patterns before: they bring in large amounts of equipment and then they leave.”
When asked whether Russia was fighting a proxy war against America in Afghanistan (like Iran does against Saudi Arabia in Yemen for example), General Nicholson responded evasively: "This activity really picked up in the last 18 to 24 months. Prior to that, we had not seen this kind of destabilizing activity by Russia here. When you look at the timing it roughly correlates to when things started to heat up in Syria. So it's interesting to note the timing of the whole thing."