Washington, Sep 12 : President Donald Trump used 9/11 remembrance commemorations Wednesday to announce an unprecedented escalation of the US military assault on Taliban in Afghanistan, two days after cancelling peace talks with the insurgent group because of a new deadly attack in Kabul.
Speaking at a Pentagon ceremony marking the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, Trump said that over “the last four days” US forces have “hit our enemy harder than they have ever been hit before and that will continue.”
In a speech at the Pentagon to commemorate the attacks on the World Trade Towers and the US military headquarters on Sept 11, 2001, Trump said the assault was ordered after he canceled peace talks with the Taliban over the weekend in retaliation for a bomb attack that killed one US soldier last week.
“We had peace talks scheduled a few days ago. I called them off when I learned that they had killed a great American soldier from Puerto Rico and 11 other innocent people,” Trump said, regarding the Kabul bomb attack that killed Army Sgt. Elis A. Barreto Ortiz.
“(The Taliban) thought they would use this attack to show strength, but actually what they showed is unrelenting weakness. The last four days, we have hit our enemy harder than they have ever been hit before. And that will continue,” the president said.
Trump added: “And if for any reason, they come back to our country, we will go wherever they are, and use power, the likes of which the United States has never used before. And I’m not even talking about nuclear power.”
He went on to expand upon his threat, saying: “They will never have seen anything like what will happen to them. No enemy on earth can match the overwhelming strength skill and might of the American armed forces.”
“We do not seek conflict, but if anyone dares to strike our land, we will respond with the full measure of American power and the iron will of the American spirit, and that spirit is unbreakable,” Trump said.
Trump’s warnings come two days after he pronounced the peace talks that Washington and the Taliban had been pursuing for more than a year in Qatar “dead.”
The talks – which had already produced a rough draft of a peace agreement – had been under way with an eye toward putting an end to the almost-two-decade-long war in Afghanistan.
The suspension of negotiations, however, threatens to provoke the Taliban to launch a renewed wave of violence in Afghanistan at an especially delicate moment, just two weeks before that country’s presidential election.
The president added that he had been watching CNBC when the first plane struck the World Trade Center, saying: “I was looking out of a window from a building in midtown Manhattan directly at the World Trade Center when I saw the second plane at a tremendous speed go into the second tower. It was then that I realized the world was going to change.”
But there are only 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan, a fraction of about 100,000 in 2010.