'20-30 rockets' land near Kabul airport as James Mattis, Jens Stoltenberg arrive in capital: No flights cancelled

Multiple rockets landed near Kabul's international airport on Wednesday after US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg flew to the Afghan capital for talks, an official said. While AFP reported that six rockets landed near the airport area, Afghan media reported that 20-30 rockets landed as Mattis and Stoltenberg landed in the capital city of Afghanistan.

The volley of missiles struck near the military section of the airport but there were no casualties or immediate claim of responsibility, interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish told AFP.

TOLO News reported that details about casualty weren't available yet. Police have cordoned off the area to find the exact location from which the rockets were fired, Danish told AFP, adding that no flights were cancelled.

The attack came hours after Mattis arrived in the Afghan capital, the first member of Donald Trump's cabinet to visit the war-torn country since his pledge to stay the course in America's longest war. The unannounced high-level visit comes as Afghanistan's beleaguered security forces struggle to beat back the Taliban, which has been on the offensive since the withdrawal of US-led NATO combat troops at the end of 2014.

 20-30 rockets land near Kabul airport as James Mattis, Jens Stoltenberg arrive in capital: No flights cancelled

A file photo of US Defence Secretary James Mattis. Reuters

Mattis, along with Stoltenberg, will meet President Ashraf Ghani and other top officials to discuss the US-led NATO "train and assist" mission designed to strengthen Afghanistan's military so it can defend the country on its own.

US generals have for months been calling the situation in Afghanistan a stalemate, despite years of support for Afghan partners, continued help from a NATO coalition and an overall cost in fighting and reconstruction to the United States of more than $1 trillion.

The war turns 16 in October and America is pressing NATO partners to increase their own troop levels in the country to help Afghan forces get the upper hand in the grinding battle against the Taliban and the Islamic State group.

The resurgent Taliban have promised to turn Afghanistan into a "graveyard" for foreign forces and have been mounting deadly attacks as they maintain their grip on large swathes of the country.

As of February only about 60 percent of Afghanistan's 407 districts were reported to be under government control, according to the US watchdog agency SIGAR.

With inputs from AFP

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Updated Date: Sep 27, 2017 13:35:27 IST

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