UPDATE: The downed airplane was a US Air Force plane that crashed above the Ghazni province, and it was allegedly shot down.
The crash happened over Taliban-controlled territory. A video published on social media of the crash site clearly shows the airplane is a US Air Force one.
— Tariq Ghazniwal (@TGhazniwal) January 27, 2020
The crashed plane was identified as the Bombardier E-11A aircraft. It is the military variant of the civil Bombardier BD-700 Global Express for use as overhead communications-relay platform
On January 27th,reports appeared that a passenger plane, with 83 people onboard crashed in Afghanistan. According to reports, it was a Boeing 737-400 plane en route from Kabul to Herat which came down in the Deh Yak district of Ghazni, controlled by the Taliban.
Arif Noori, spokesman for the provincial governor, said the plane went down around 1:10 p.m. local time. Two provincial council members also confirmed the crash.
Initially, the reports were that a Afghan Ariana Airlines plane had crashed.
BREAKING NEWS: An aircraft has crashed in Deh Yak district of #Ghazni province, said a member of the local provincial council.
— TOLOnews (@TOLOnews) January 27, 2020
However, Ariana Airlines told The Associated Press that none of its planes have crashed in Afghanistan, according to Mirwais Mirzakwal, the company’s acting director.
The state-owned airline also released a statement on its website saying all its aircraft were operational and safe.
“There has been an airline crash but it does not belong to Ariana because the two flights managed by Ariana today from Herat to Kabul and Herat to Delhi are safe,” the airline’s acting CEO Mirwais Mirzakwal Mirzakwal told Reuters.
Thus, it remains unclear which company the jet belongs to. The number of people on board, what has become of them and the reasons for the crash are also unconfirmed.
The mountainous Ghazni province sits in the foothills of the Hindu Kush mountains and is dangerous in winter, due to very low temperatures.
The last major commercial air crash in Afghanistan occurred in 2005 when a Kam Air flight from western Herat to the capital Kabul crashed into the mountains as it tried to land in snowy weather.
Meanwhile, the situation in the country remains tense, but the Afghan government appears to be working on a reconciliation plan, together with research organizations.
Former deputy minister Jawed Ludin, Jafar Mahdawi, Mohammad Ishaq Gailani, Janan Musazai, Suraya Dalil, Fawzia Kofi, Asif Rahimi and Mohammad Asim are part of a group that has worked on this plan over the past three months.
“The plan has been prepared by our friends with the help of the Heart of Asia office which is an independent organization,” said Sayed Ishaq Gailani, a politician and a member of the team that prepared the plan.
“Overall, the plan is about the fact that all the stakeholders should represent Afghans and this group (mentioned in the plan) should attend the intra-Afghan negotiations with the Taliban,” he added.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani met with US Charge de Affairs Ross Wilson and US and NATO forces commander Gen. Scott Miller.
In this meeting, Gen. Miller said that the US-Taliban talks are underway in Doha and that the United States chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad will visit Kabul if the talks reach progress.
“The Taliban are interested in a ceasefire but after a deal on foreign forces withdrawal from Afghanistan,” said Abdul Shakoor Motmaen, a former Taliban member. “Intra-Afghan meetings will be held after a ceasefire in order to discuss peace.”
On January 23rd, President Ashraf Ghani said that Afghanistan was prepared for a major reduction in US forces presence in the country.
The US-Taliban talks seem to be making progress, and Ghani wants the Afghan government to also be a part of them.
In January, Taliban have offered a brief period of “violence reduction,” a vague term that likely means holding back attacks on major cities and highways.
Ghani’s government has insisted on pushing the Taliban for nothing short of a cease-fire to show that the insurgents are genuine about peace and negotiating a shared political future, saying that a “reduction of violence” is meaningless.
“It’s like pregnancy,” Ghani said. “We really can’t be half pregnant.”
In spite of the negotiations and rhetoric, clashes between US-backed Afghan Forces and Taliban continue.
In clashes between January 25th and 26th, Afghan forces reportedly killed 51 Taliban fighters in ground attacks and airstrikes in nine provinces.
The Taliban assumed responsibility for an IED attack in the Kandahar Province that targeted a NATO convoy. Some reports claimed that there was 1 casualty, NATO hasn’t confirmed any casualties.
Reports of airstrikes by the US killing scores of civilians are also commonplace. On January 8th a US airstrike reportedly killed at least 10 civilians, while attempting to target Taliban positions.
Wakil Ahmad Karokhi, a provincial council member in Herat, said the strike also killed the commander of a Taliban splinter group, known as Mullah Nangyalia, along with 15 other militants.
Regardless, more than half of Afghanistan is under Taliban control, and many parts are still contested, with the US-backed puppet government constantly on the back foot.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Military Situation In Afghanistan On January 26, 2020 (Map Update)
- Military Situation In Afghanistan On January 23, 2020 (Map Update)