Russia supplying Taliban with weapons, top U.S. general in Afghanistan suggests

LONDON -- U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday as the country descended further into chaos.

Worsening the situation are new allegations the Russians are supplying the Taliban with weapons.

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Defense Secretary Jim Mattis flies into Afghanistan

CBS News

“We’re going to have to confront Russia where what they’re doing is contrary to international law,” Mattis said.

Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan, made it clearer. A reporter asked Nicholson “So you are not refuting that they are sending weapons?”

“Oh, no, I am not refuting that,” Nicholson replied.

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Gen. John Nicholson

CBS News

The visit comes after a sneak attack by the Taliban on an Afghan military base in Mazar i Sharif that killed at least 140 Afghan soldiers.

Military vehicles drove Taliban fighters dressed in Afghan army uniforms past checkpoints and into the base.

Survivors said the militants then opened fire on unarmed Afghan soldiers returning from a mosque.

Mattis called the attack “barbaric.”

The Taliban also claimed responsibility for another attack Monday at Camp Chapman, a base that houses CIA and U.S. special operations forces. In 2009, seven CIA officers were killed there in a suicide bomb attack. There are no American casualties this time.

The Taliban now control about 40 percent of the country. The U.S. sent 300 Marines to Helmand Province last week, and Nicholson has said he may need a few thousand more troops.

Despite a resurgent Taliban, the U.S. military targeted ISIS militants two weeks ago, dropping a 22,000-pound bomb on a network of caves and tunnels near the border with Pakistan. There have been no confirmation of ISIS deaths.

Mattis also said Monday that 2017 is going to be another tough year for Afghan security forces. There is no word if Nicholson’s request for more U.S. troops will be granted.