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Full US troop withdrawal will depend on Taliban’s level of commitment: Pompeo 

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(Last Updated On: September 11, 2020)

US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said American troop levels in Afghanistan would depend on the Taliban upholding its commitments with the US regardless of the outcome of domestic peace talks set to start in Doha on Saturday.

Speaking to journalists while on his way to Qatar, Pompeo said: “There are a series of commitments that the Taliban have made, we have every expectation that they will follow through on them.”

He said the US’s commitment to reducing troops to zero is on condition the Taliban execute their obligations under the agreement. 

He would not however say whether the Trump administration would wait for a peace deal before withdrawing all troops. 

In February, the US and the Taliban reached a deal to kickstart peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. 

Peace talks were due to start in March but were repeatedly delayed mostly due to the issue around the Taliban prisoner release process and the ongoing attacks by the Taliban. 

One commitment was a steady withdrawal of troops by the US, which have since February dropped from 13,000 to 8,600 and five military bases have been handed over to the Afghan National Army. 

This week, Trump announced a further troop withdrawal and said by November there would only be 4,500 US forces in Afghanistan. 

The deal between the Taliban and the US meanwhile stipulates that all US troops will be out of Afghanistan by spring next year but that the Taliban has to cut all ties with al-Qaeda. 

Despite the rise in attacks by the Taliban around the country and the increase in targeted assassinations, including the attempt this week on Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh’s life, for which the Taliban denied responsibility, Pompeo has hailed the US-led campaign “a tremendous success.”

In his chat to reporters, he said: “We can be proud of what we achieved but it’s time for the next step,” adding that his objectives were based on two demands from President Donald Trump: Draw down troops as quickly as possible while also maintaining American security.

Pompeo also said it was now the turn of Afghan leaders to control the fate of their country.

“I’m mindful of how difficult these conversations will be among the Afghans but it’s theirs for the taking,” Pompeo said.

“It’s their country to try to figure out how to move forward and make a better life for all the Afghan people.”

 

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Desert Vipers pull off exciting 12-run win over Dubai Capitals to regain top slot

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(Last Updated On: January 29, 2023)

Desert Vipers pulled off an exciting 12-run victory over Dubai Capitals in the 20th match of the ILT20 at the Dubai International Stadium on Saturday night to regain the top position in the points table.

While Desert Vipers could post only a moderate total of 149 for 9 through a captain’s knock of 40 off 32 balls with two boundaries and two sixes from Colin Munro, Dubai Capitals were restricted to 137 for 5 in 20 overs through a splendid and accurate bowling by Rohan Mustafa (2 for 27) backed well by Matheesha Pathirana and Tom Curran.
For Dubai Capitals, Adam Zampa playing his first match, bowled brilliantly and took three wickets for 16 to bag the Player of the match award.

Dubai Capitals remain in fifth slot with two victories and four defeats and only five points.

Speaking about their performance, Desert Vipers’ Rohan Mustafa said after the match: “The Dubai Capitals bowled really well towards the end of our innings. Credit to them. It wasn’t an easy wicket to bat on. I thought we had enough on the board at the end of our innings.”

Meanwhile, Dubai Capitals’ Adam Zampa said: “Tom Curran and Matheesha Pathirana bowled impressively for the Vipers. The batting group will talk about what they can do better and think about what they could do if they find themselves in the same situation again.”

Earlier in the day, Rahmanullah Gurbaz played a fantastic innings of 56 runs from 39 balls to help the Sharjah Warriors register a four-wicket victory over Abu Dhabi Knight Riders at the same stadium.

The Warriors restricted the Knight Riders to 149 for four in their 20 overs and then chased down their target in 17 overs.

Speaking about their performance, Sharjah Warriors’ captain Joe Denly said: “Our bowlers set the tone for the whole game. We never let them get away when they were batting. I thought 150 was a very reasonable score. We are a confident group at the moment and we have a couple of days to recharge and then come back strong in Sharjah.”

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi Knight Riders’ Akeal Hosein said after the match: “I thought we were 15 runs short with the bat. The Warriors got off to a great start in the powerplay, which allowed them to cruise through in the middle period of the game. We’ve had decent performances with bat and ball, but we haven’t put everything together as a team.”

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Desert Vipers secure 7 wicket win against MI Emirates

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(Last Updated On: January 25, 2023)

Alex Hales and Sherfane Rutherford’s sparkling unbeaten half centuries and skipper Colin Munro’s cameo knock carried Desert Vipers past MI Emirates in the 15th match of the DP World ILT20 at the Zayed Cricket Stadium on Tuesday night. 

Desert Vipers, through a fine display of intelligent bowling, had also restricted MI Emirates to 169 for 5 despite half centuries from Kieron Pollard and Nicholas Pooran.

Hales hit an unbeaten 62 runs off 44 balls with six boundaries and two sixes while Sherfane Rutherford scored a breezy unbeaten 56 off 29 balls with four boundaries and three sixes to put on an unbeaten 94 off 52 balls for the fourth wicket. 

Desert Vipers’ skipper Colin Munro set the momentum through a fine knock of 41 runs off 22 balls with four boundaries and three sixes. 

Speaking about their performance Desert Vipers’ Sherfane Rutherford said: “I want to keep things simple and just watch the ball. I was just trying to react to the ball. The key was just to use the pace and that worked for me.”

Meanwhile, MI Emirates’ Trent Boult said: “It becomes easier to bat on in the second innings here. I thought they played extremely well. They timed their innings quite nicely. That’s a luxury when you’re chasing 170.”

 

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Iranian arrested in Germany, suspected of plotting chemical attack

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(Last Updated On: January 8, 2023)

A 32-year-old Iranian man has been arrested in Germany on suspicion of planning an attack with deadly chemicals, officials said Sunday.

Police and prosecutors said the man and another person were detained overnight in the town of Castrop-Rauxel, northwest of Dortmund.

In a joint statement they said the man is suspected to have planned a serious attack motivated by Islamic extremism, for which he had allegedly obtained the potent toxins cyanide and ricin, the Associated Press reported.

German news agency dpa reported that specialists wearing anti-contamination suits carried evidence out of the man’s home.

Tabloid newspaper Bild reported that German authorities had received a tip from an allied intelligence agency about the alleged plans for a chemical attack.

Five years ago, German police arrested a Tunisian man and his wife on suspicion of planning to carry out a ricin attack in the name of the Islamic State (ISIS) group. They were later found guilty and sentenced to 10 and eight years’ imprisonment, respectively.

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