Situation in Afghanistan still challenging: US

The situation in Afghanistan still remains challenging, the US has said.

PTI| Updated: Jan 06, 2016, 13:17 PM IST

Washington: The situation in Afghanistan remains challenging and the best way to ensure security in the war-torn country is through an Afghan-led peace process, the US has said, hours after an American soldier was killed and two others wounded in Helmand province bordering Pakistan.

"The situation in Helmand and throughout Afghanistan remains challenging. But we are confident that the Afghan national security and defence forces are continuing to develop the capabilities and capacity to secure the country against a persistent insurgent threat," Pentagon Press Secretary Peter
Cook told reporters yesterday.

Cook said the US and Afghan governments agree that the best way to ensure lasting peace and security in Afghanistan is through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.

Yesterday, a US service member was killed and two others were injured when they came under fire while conducting a train, advise and assist mission with their Afghan special operations counterparts on the ground of Marja city in Helmand Province which shares its border with Pakistan.

Two HH-60 Pave Hawk Medevac helicopters were sent to provide assistance. One of those was waived off after taking fire and returned safely to its base, the second landed safely but sustained damage to its rotor blades after it apparently struck a wall. The helicopters remains on the ground, he said.

"This is an ongoing situation, there is still a fight going on in the immediate surroundings. We'll provide more details as they become available. There are dangerous parts of Afghanistan where the fight is still underway, and Helmand Province is one of those places," Cook said.

"The US forces that are there are doing what they can to provide support, training, advice, assistance to the Afghan forces as they take the lead in this fight, as they've continued to take the lead in this fight.

"They've shown resilience Helmand Province, but this is an ongoing fight and I think the events of the last few hours in Afghanistan highlight that, highlight the risks that the Afghan forces are taking every single day, and of course, the risks that the American forces who are there assisting them
are taking as well," he said.

Cook said the Afghan national security forces are getting better at defending their own country.
"But they're not at a point yet where they are able to operate entirely on their own, which is why US forces, NATO forces are there, assisting and providing this kind of training and assistance to the Afghans.

"So we're confident, because of the support that not only the US is providing, but other countries as well, that the Afghan forces are moving in the right direction. We've seen solid progress from the Afghan forces," Cook added.