Officials with the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan are downplaying an attack on a military base there that marked the first attack by the Taliban since a historic three-day ceasefire over the Eid al-Fitr holiday.
British Army Lt. Gen. Richard Cripwell, deputy commander of the Resolute Support mission, in a briefing Wednesday with reporters at the Pentagon, dismissed the notion that Taliban militants used the holiday and ceasefire as an opportunity to gather military intelligence.
Earlier Wednesday, Taliban militants captured a military base in the western province of Badghis, killing as many as 30 Afghan soldiers in the process.
When asked if the Taliban picked out future targets for attack when militants made their way into cities across the county to pray during the holiday, Cripwell quickly disagreed.
“Candidly, the Taliban that came into Kabul on Saturday seemed more focused on taking selfies, going to the barber, buying ice cream and things like that. I saw no evidence of any military activity,” Cripwell said during his video update.
Instead, Cripwell chose to focus on the ceasefire and the positives that came along with it, most notably how it showed the potential for future peace between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
“Right now, I truly believe that we stand on the edge of opportunity here in Afghanistan,” Cripwell said. “There are clear signs of change. I cannot understate the sense of optimism that is in the country at the moment.”
The sense of optimism Cripwell expressed echoed similar comments made on Tuesday by Army Lt. Gen. Scott Miller, who told lawmakers that he saw progress in the fight against the Taliban due to recent changes in military strategy.
Miller has been nominated to be the next commander of the Resolute Support mission.
Noah Nash is a rising senior at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. At school, he is the editor in chief of the Collegian Magazine and the digital director of the Collegian, Kenyon's newspaper.