Afghanistan Requests Close Air Support

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Afghan National Security Advisor Mohammad Hanif Atmar requested support from NATO and its partners in the alliance's Resolute Support training mission during a special meeting with the North Atlantic Council at NATO headquarters in Brussels Feb. 7.

Atmar said after the meeting with allied ambassadors that it had discussed improvements in the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) and that he had requested support for the four-year roadmap to improve these forces.

The desired support includes not only training but also close air support, which Atmar described as a "key gap" in the ANDSF's capabilities. He requested close air support from the United States until the ANDSF is able to provide it in the longer term. Developing these capabilities "requires time", Atmar pointed out.

Atmar said the ANDSF's requirements include weapons, communications and logistics.

He blamed the increase in Afghan military and civilian casualties in 2016 on the greater number of Afghan and Pakistani terrorists, as well as those from elsewhere in the region and from international networks.

He said Afghanistan had "expressed strong concern" to Russia and Iran over their support of the Taliban.

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