The American Defense Department (Pentagon) decided on Friday to refrain from publishing information about the Taliban attacks in Afghanistan, stressing that sharing these data will not allow advancing negotiations with the movement.
The Office of the Special Inspector General for the Reconstruction of Afghanistan (CIGAR), linked to Congress, said in a report published Thursday that the US-led NATO mission in Afghanistan was no longer publishing information about Taliban attacks.
And the commission considered that the failure to publish information limits the understanding of the development of the conflict, while Washington reduces its military presence in this country.
A spokesman for the US Department of Defense justified the failure to publish the information by continuing negotiations with the Taliban.
“We are working for a better solution and a better place for Afghanistan and sharing this information will not push things forward,”
Jonathan Hoffman told a news conference.
He added that “the level of violence practised by the Taliban is unacceptably high”, considering that this level of violence does not lead to a diplomatic solution.
The United States, which wanted to end the longest war in its history, invaded Afghanistan at the head of an international coalition at the end of 2001 after the September 11 attacks on its soil. The Taliban movement, which had been in power since 1996, had been removed from power but unable to defeat it on the ground.
After more than 18 years of conflict, US President Donald Trump has consistently emphasized that he wants to bring all American forces home as soon as possible.
The new restrictions on information come as the United States on February 29 in Doha signed an agreement with the Taliban pledging to withdraw all foreign forces from Afghanistan within 14 months, in exchange for unclear guarantees from the rebels, but including negotiations with Kabul, which seems far away.
In 2018, the US Department of Defense stopped publishing the number of rebel-held areas and the size of the population under their control in varying degrees, while the Afghan government’s authority was declining.
Kabul has also withheld the human losses of its security forces, after publishing figures on the deaths of thousands of them each year.
The “resolute support” mission disclosed data on “enemy attacks”, which is considered one of the few remaining coordinates regarding the conflict and the size of the Taliban and other insurgent groups.
But in his quarterly report Friday, the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Reconstruction of Afghanistan said, “This chapter has withheld RS (Resolute Support mission or firm support) for the first time all the information about enemy attacks.”
The office, whose reports often face sharp criticism, added that the mission stopped publishing numbers, explaining that “these numbers were one of the last indicators that the office can use to clarify the security situation in Afghanistan to the public.”
The mission issued a brief statement indicating that the Taliban had stepped up their attacks in March after signing the agreement between the United States and the movement.
“Between March 1 and March 31, the Taliban refrained from attacking coalition forces, but increased their attacks against Afghan forces at levels higher than the quarterly standards,” the statement said.
The Office of the Inspector General indicated that the Pentagon may release information in the future. His report also indicated that Afghanistan faces significant risks due to the emerging Coronavirus crisis.
To date, 2,171 cases of Cuvid-19 have been recorded, including 64 deaths.
The Office of the Inspector-General said, “The many and sometimes unique weaknesses in Afghanistan … raise the possibility that the country will face a health disaster in the coming months.”
The Pentagon is seeking to reduce the number of US soldiers from 12,000 to 8,600 in the coming months.