Afghan police defended the Kunduz airport from Taliban attacks Tuesday, following the group’s victory over the city of 300,000 yesterday. The victory over Kunduz was the Taliban’s first return to the city in over 14 years, and allowed the group to rescue more than 100 imprisoned Taliban leaders and gain access to weapons stores.
Government officials there claim that ISIS-linked militants were involved in the operation, in addition to those from the Islamic Movement of Uzbeikistan (IMU). Afghan security forces within the airport are currently under siege, as supply lines have been cut.
Kunduz’s status as a major transportation hub to central Asia, as well as its proximity to Tajikistan, will provide Russian President Vladimir Putin valuable fodder for his public speeches, as he moves to expand Russia’s influence in the region.
Putin reaffirmed his commitment to Tajikistan in recent weeks, stating, “Here in Tajikistan you are confronted with problems, with encroachments and attempts to rock the situation, and I would like to say that you can always count on our assistance and support.”
The U.S. still maintains a force of nearly 10,000 in Afghanistan, but President Obama has vowed to withdraw those by the end of 2016. One of Obama’s most popular campaign promises going into the 2008 election, was his commitment to end the U.S. wars in the Middle East.
There is no politically popular solution to the problem, leading Obama to pursue an ineffective bombing campaign, as he strives to avoid placing additional “boots on the ground.”
Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour issued statements on their ultimate objective, “This is the beginning, and our aim is Kabul. You will see how we capture Kabul and hang these puppets there in squares.”
Deputy governor of Kunduz, Abdullah Danishy, stated that reinforcements from neighboring regions would soon arrive for a counterattack.