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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

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U.S., Australian hostages freed by Taliban in prisoner swap

The Taliban on Tuesday freed an American and an Australian held hostage since 2016 in exchange for three top Taliban figures – a move that the insurgent group asserted could help rekindle talks to end Afghanistan’s 18-year war.

Afghan president: 3 Taliban released for held US, Australian

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday announced that his government has released three prominent Taliban figures in an effort to get the insurgents to free two university professors – an American and an Australian – they abducted three years ago.

U.S. has begun reducing troops in Afghanistan, commander says

The United States has reduced its troop strength in Afghanistan over the past year, the commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan announced Monday, despite the abrupt end last month of peace talks with the Taliban that centered on a draw-down of American troops.

Officials: Blast at Afghan mosque kills 62 during prayers

An explosion rocked a mosque in eastern Afghanistan as dozens of people gathered for Friday prayers, causing the roof to collapse and killing 62 worshippers, provincial officials said. The attack underscored the record-high number of civilians dying in the country’s 18-year war.

UN: Afghan insurgents responsible for most 2019 casualties

Afghan civilians are dying in record numbers in the country’s increasingly brutal war, noting that more civilians died in July than in any previous one-month period since the U.N. began keeping statistics, according to a U.N. report released Thursday.

Authorities: Separate attacks in Afghanistan kill 48

Separate attacks by suicide bombers – one that targeted President Ashraf Ghani’s election rally and a second that ripped through the center of the Afghan capital – killed at least 48 people and wounded scores more

James Stavridis: There’s still a path forward with the Taliban

President Donald Trump is taking a lot of criticism for abruptly canceling talks he had hoped to sponsor between the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan at Camp David. But he was right to do so – his announcement sent a signal that the Taliban must demonstrate in far more concrete ways a commitment to a peaceful negotiation to end nearly two decades of war. I say this from experience. When I headed the NATO mission in Afghanistan as supreme allied commander for all global operations from 2009-2013, I studied the Taliban closely. The movement’s name itself simply means “students” in Pashtun, and it is a movement that learned about taking and using power – enough to dominate Afghanistan after the overthrow of the Russian-backed central government before 9/11. Taliban leaders facilitated and protected al-Qaida, and provided support in the attacks against the U.S. I found them to be tenacious, determined, resilient and utterly implacable foes who took the long view. “The Americans have all the watches, but we have all the time” was a favorite saying.

Trump says peace talks with Taliban are now ‘dead’

U.S. peace talks with the Taliban are now “dead,” President Donald Trump declared Monday, one day after he abruptly canceled a secret meeting he had arranged with Taliban and Afghan leaders aimed at ending America’s longest war.

Taliban attacks test Trump as he seeks to end Afghan war

Relentless, deadly attacks by the Taliban, including a car bombing Thursday that killed a U.S. service member, are testing President Donald Trump’s resolve to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and end what he has called America’s “endless” war.

Shattering Taliban attack in Kabul even as U.S. deal nears

KABUL, Afghanistan – The Taliban on Tuesday defended their suicide bombing against an international compound in the Afghan capital that killed at least 16 people and wounded 119, almost all local civilians, just hours after a U.S. envoy said he and the militant group had reached a deal “in principle” to end America’s longest war. Angry Kabul residents whose homes were shredded in the explosion climbed over the buckled blast wall and set part of the compound, a frequent Taliban target, on fire. Thick smoke rose from the Green Village, home to several foreign organizations and guesthouses, whose location has become a peril to nearby local residents as well.

Taliban attack Kabul as U.S. envoy says deal almost final

The Taliban claimed responsibility for a large explosion in the Afghan capital Monday night, just hours after a U.S. envoy briefed the Afghan government on an agreement “in principle” with the insurgent group that would see 5,000 U.S. troops leave the country within five months.