Taliban Claims Kabul Rocket Attack Was Targeting Mattis

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis (C) walks upon arriving at a Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan on Sept. 27, 2017 / Getty

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The Taliban claimed responsibility for the rocket attack Wednesday that struck an airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, and said the target was Defense Secretary James Mattis.

Zabiullah Mujahid, the Taliban's spokesman, tweeted that Mattis' plane was the target of the attack, though the assault occurred hours after the Pentagon chief left Hamid Karzai International Airport, CNN reports.

During the attack, up to 40 rounds of munitions, including 29 rocket-propelled grenades, hit the airport. Mattis said that the Taliban was trying to make a statement and declared "an attack on an airport anywhere in the world is a criminal act by terrorists."

"It's designed to go after generally innocent people to make some sort of statement," Mattis said. "This is a classic definition of what the Taliban are up to right now."

The attack did not kill or injure anyone, although it did strike the airport's south side. Mattis warned that this kind of attack will only lead to firmer retaliation from Afghan security forces.

"It defines their approach to how they see their role here and if in fact this is what they have done, they will find the Afghan security forces continuing on the offensive against them in every district of the country right now," Mattis said. "So it is what it is, but it's also the reason why we band together, and we don't question what we're doing here."

Mattis is in Afghanistan for the first time since President Donald Trump announced a revamped military strategy in Afghanistan last month. Trump said that the U.S. would "fight to win" in Afghanistan going forward, and Mattis emphasized the importance of this course of action.

"A lot is riding on this of course as we look toward how do we put an end to this fighting and the threat of terrorism to the Afghan people, to the international community, and how do we put this into a path of political reconciliation," Mattis said.

Mattis has met with key leaders during his trip, including Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, and Gen. John Nicholson, commander of US forces in Afghanistan.

Paul Crookston

Paul Crookston   Email Paul | Full Bio | RSS
Paul Crookston is a media analyst with the Washington Free Beacon. He was previously a Collegiate Network fellow at National Review. A 2016 graduate of Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., he served as the managing editor of the Tartan campus newspaper. He is originally from Tampa, Fla., but he still roots for Dad’s Ohio teams. His Twitter handle is @P_Crookston. He can be reached at crookston@freebeacon.com.

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