The US military has gone a full year without a single combat death in Afghanistan for the first time in two decades of war, Military Times reported.
Army Sgts. 1st Class Javier Gutierrez and Antonio Rodriguez were the last two Americans to die while fighting in the country one year ago, the report said, adding that two others, Army Staff Sgt. Ian McLaughlin and Army Pfc. Miguel Villalon, were killed in January of last year.
The Taliban has said it may still target US military members if the Doha agreement is violated.
This comes as US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan in a telephonic conversation with his Afghan counterpart Hamdullah Mohib on Jan. 22 said the Biden administration would review the Trump administration's February 2020 US-Taliban agreement, the White House said in a press release.
There are 2,500 troops left in Afghanistan, and the agreement between the Taliban and former US President Trump stipulated that all of them should be removed by May 2021.
Taliban violence 'too high'
The commander of the United States Central Command, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, says the level of violence in Afghanistan remains too high and that the US is reviewing the Taliban actions as well as the peace agreement to find a way forward in the near future, but he stressed that there has to be a conditions-based approach when it comes to the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.
Speaking in an online conversation hosted by the Middle East Institute, McKenzie said: “The Taliban continue to resort to extreme violence and targeted killings across the country and frequent attacks on the Afghan forces. While they have mostly avoided attacks on US and coalition units, the level of violence is just simply too high and so that is an action that we look at.”
He said the US continues to watch Taliban actions and “I know the administration is taking a close look at the way forward in accordance with the February 2020 peace agreement.”
He said that some key elements to that plan require the Taliban to take action, but “we all agree that the best path is going to be a negotiated political settlement among the Afghans.”
“No one debates that essential point. However, you have to take a conditions-based approach,” he said.
He said that both sides “have got to show that they are willing to make the concessions that are going to be necessary to find a political path forward.”
Gen. McKenzie said that he remains concerned about the actions the Taliban have been taking up until this point. He added that the new policy is under review and “we will have a way forward in the near future.”
He mentioned that since 9/11, the US strategic objective in Afghanistan remains to safeguard the homeland from attacks by terrorist groups, primarily al Qaeda and recently Daesh and preventing them from using Afghanistan as a base and safe haven.
This comes as Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham in an interview with CBS said that the American troops will not leave Afghanistan in May, supporting the Biden administration's stance on Afghanistan and its bid to review the US-Taliban agreement.
“I'm very pleased with what the Biden administration is proposing for Afghanistan. We're going to keep troops there on a conditions-based approach,” Graham said.
Asked if the US troops would leave Afghanistan after May, Graham said, “I think we're not going to leave in May. We're going to leave when the conditions are right. The Taliban have been cheating. They haven't been complying. And so, I like what Secretary Blinken and the Biden administration is doing.”