Official: US strikes Taliban in first hit since Afghan peace deal

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - The U.S. military says it has conducted an airstrike against Taliban forces in southern Afghanistan, only days after American and Taliban officials signed an ambitious peace deal in the Mideastern state of Qatar.

U.S. military spokesman Col. Sonny Leggett said in a tweet Wednesday that it was the first U.S. strike against the militant group in 11 days. He said the attack was to counter a Taliban assault on Afghan government forces in Nahr-e Saraj in the Helmand province.

“Taliban leadership promised the international community they would reduce violence and not increase attacks. We call on the Taliban to stop needless attacks and uphold their commitments. As we have demonstrated, we will defend our partners when required,” said Leggett on Twitter.

President Donald Trump confirmed Tuesday that he spoke on the phone to a Taliban leader, making him the first U.S. president believed to have ever spoken directly with the militant group responsible for the deaths of thousands of U.S. troops in nearly 19 years of fighting in Afghanistan.

US defense leaders: Taliban peace deal results mixed

Top defense leaders say the results of the U.S.-Taliban peace deal signed on Saturday have been mixed, but the insurgent group is abiding by much of the accord.

Their comments followed a U.S. military airstrike targeting Taliban fighters who were attacking Afghan forces.

The exchange of violence came a day after President Donald Trump described what he called a “very good talk" with a Taliban leader, and insisted the group wants to cease violence.

The attacks underscored the fragility of the U.S.-Taliban peace accord and the murky nature of what the U.S. may or may not do to try to enforce or encourage it.

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