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104 cargo loads of US military equipment flown out of Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: May 12, 2021)

US forces in Afghanistan have moved about 104 cargo loads of equipment out of the country so far and have turned over more than 1,800 items of gear for destruction, US Central Command said on Tuesday.

CENTCOM said in a statement that since President Joe Biden’s decision to fully withdraw all military personnel from Afghanistan “the US has retrograded the equivalent of approximately 104 C-17 [military cargo plane] loads of material out of Afghanistan and have turned over more than 1,800 pieces of equipment to the Defense Logistics Agency for destruction.”

CENTCOM stated the US has also officially handed over one facility to the Afghan National Army.

The statement also noted that CENTCOM estimates it has completed between six to 12 percent of the entire retrograde process.

The statement noted: “For operational security reasons we will only be providing an approximate range of the percentage of the exit process that is complete. As the responsible and orderly exit continues, the size of the range will increase to preserve operational security.

“This update includes the progress on the retrograde of troops and equipment from Afghanistan, the turning over of equipment and facilities to the ANDSF, as well as the destruction of some equipment.”

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said Tuesday that the United States has added capabilities in the nation to help shield retrograde operations and provide force protection.

Kirby also said CENTCOM has not released the number of troops that remain in Afghanistan because it would provide “a level of situational awareness for the Taliban.”

“We have an obligation to keep our people safe, particularly in a retrograde that could be opposed,” Kirby said. “We have to assume that this is going to be an opposed retrograde. And if we assumed anything less, it would be irresponsible of us.”

However, the US is still seeking a diplomatic peace settlement in Afghanistan.

Kirby said the US Defense Department is committed to working with US State Department personnel even as the withdrawal continues. “We still support, and want to see, a political end of this war and to see that the Taliban and the Afghan government work this out,” he said.

DOD will continue a relationship with the Afghan government after the retrograde is finished. “There are very active discussions going on now inside the department to better define what over-the-horizon counterterrorism capabilities we will be able to avail ourselves of,” Kirby said.

Before the drawdown began, there were about 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan and a further 7,000 NATO troops.

However, the Pentagon deployed several hundred Army Rangers and 12 F-18 attack planes to Afghanistan last week to assist with the drawdown.

Also helping to protect the withdrawing troops are six B-52 bombers based in Qatar and the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Middle East.

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Chinese FM talks with Muttaqi, reaffirms support for quake victims

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(Last Updated On: June 28, 2022)

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke with his Afghan counterpart Amir Khan Muttaqi on Monday in a phone conversation and reaffirmed support for the victims of last week’s devastating earthquake.

Wang expressed condolences over the tragedy and said China stands ready to provide more timely assistance to Afghanistan based on its needs and expects the country to stay united to overcome the disaster and rebuild homes as soon as possible, according to China’s foreign ministry.

He said various forces in China, from the central and local governments to social organizations and enterprises, have worked overtime to deliver emergency humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and help the Afghan people.

According to Wang, the first batch of tents, blankets and other supplies are being delivered by chartered planes, and cash and other relief supplies will follow as soon as possible.

For his part, Muttaqi thanked the Chinese foreign minister and said that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) has delivered timely food and medical assistance to quake victims. He said that now there is urgent need for shelter, according to a statement from the Afghan foreign ministry.

The statement said that the sides also discussed political relations. Wang said he was opposed to sanctions against Afghanistan and added that the Afghan embassy in Beijing is operating well and is playing a good role in bilateral relations.

Wang said that China will soon start issuing visas to Afghan traders and will facilitate the return of Afghan students to China.

He also said that the air link between Afghanistan and China will be operational soon.

Muttaqi welcomed China’s ‘positive policy’ on Afghanistan and expressed hope it would boost trade between the two countries, especially on dried fruits.

A magnitude-6.1 earthquake hit eastern Afghanistan last Wednesday, leaving over a thousand people dead and 3,000 homes destroyed.

The Chinese government has decided to provide about $7.5 million worth of humanitarian aid to the victims.

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30,000-year-old baby mammoth found almost perfectly preserved in Canada

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(Last Updated On: June 27, 2022)

A gold miner found a mummified baby wooly mammoth that was almost perfectly preserved in the Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin Traditional Territory in Yukon, Canada. 

According to a press release from the local government, the female baby mammoth has been named Nun cho ga by the First Nation Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in elders, which translates to “big baby animal” in the Hän language. 

Nun cho ga is the most complete mummified mammoth discovered in North America, Science Alert reported.

Nun cho ga died and was frozen in permafrost during the ice age, over 30,000 years ago, said the press release. She would have roamed the Yukon alongside wild horses, cave lions, and giant steppe bison. 

The frozen mammoth was recovered by geologists after a young miner in the Klondike gold fields found the remains while digging up dirt.

Dr. Grant Zazula, the Yukon government’s paleontologist, said the miner had made the “most important discovery in paleontology in North America,” reported The Weather Channel.

The baby mammoth was probably with her mother when it ventured off a little too far and got stuck in the mud, Zazula told The Weather Channel.

Professor Dan Shugar, from the University of Calgary, part of the team who excavated the wooly mammoth, said that this discovery was the “most exciting scientific thing I have ever been part of.”

He described how immaculately the mammoth had been preserved, saying that it still had intact toenails, hide, hair, trunk, and even intestines, with its last meal of grass still present. 

According to the press release, Yukon is renowned for its store of ice age fossils, but rarely are such immaculate and well-preserved finds discovered. Zazula wrote in the press release that “as an ice age paleontologist, it has been one of my lifelong dreams to come face to face with a real wooly mammoth.”

“That dream came true today. Nun cho ga is beautiful and one of the most incredible mummified ice age animals ever discovered in the world.”

The wooly mammoth, about the size of the African elephant, roamed the earth until about 4,000 years ago. Early humans hunted them for food and used mammoth bones and tusks for art, tools, and dwellings. Scientists are divided as to whether hunting or climate change drove them into extinction.

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2,000 hectares of land cleared of poppies in Herat: officials

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(Last Updated On: June 27, 2022)

Around 2,000 hectares of poppy fields have been cleared in recent months in Afghanistan’s western Herat province, officials said Monday.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) in April announced a ban on the cultivation of poppy in Afghanistan.

“If anyone violates the decree the crop will be destroyed immediately and the violator will be treated according to the sharia law,” a decree issued by IEA’s Supreme Leader Hebatullah Akhundzada read.

Speaking at a ceremony to celebrate World Drug Day, Hayatullah Rouhani, head of counter-narcotics unit of the provincial police in Herat, assured the public of a serious fight against the cultivation and trafficking of narcotics.

He also said rehabilitation programs for drug addicts in the province was ongoing.

“Experience shows that the drug addiction rate will not decrease unless we round up drug dealers,” Rouhani said. “We have carried out nearly 250 operations in which we rounded up a large number of drug dealers and referred them for prosecution.”

Syed Mohammad Sadat, a provincial health official, said that IEA was seeking to fundamentally include drug addiction rehabilitation in the country’s public health system.

Around 70,000 drug addicts are estimated to be in Herat, mostly living on the streets and in recreation parks.

“They have a wife and children. There is no one without a family. They are addicted due to unemployment. I studied for 12 years, but look I have been forced to live on the street,” said Nazir Ahmad, one drug addict in Herat.

Experts say poverty, unemployment and easy availability of drugs have contributed to the rise in drug addiction.

Counternarcotic police say more than 200 people have been arrested in Herat on charges of drug dealing during the past 10 months. Over 1,000 kilograms of drug have been seized from them.

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