07:18 GMT17 February 2020
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States does not agree with Russia’s assertion that the Taliban are a legitimate force that can be used to counter the Daesh* terrorist group inside Afghanistan, US Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells said in congressional testimony on Wednesday.

    "We see… Russia adopting a posture that [the] Taliban is a legitimate force against IS," Wells told lawmakers. "And we do not buy that as a justification of engagement with the Taliban."

    Wells said while Russia’s policies have not been helpful, Moscow and all of Afghanistan’s neighbors should back a peace process.

    "Countries like Iran and Russia do have an important role to play in the future stabilization of Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s neighbors are going to have to support any peace process," she said.

    Earlier in the day, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the groundless US claims that Moscow allegedly supports the Taliban movement in Afghanistan. Earlier on Wednesday, the Khaama news agency cited Lt. General Austin Scott Miller, the newly nominated commander of the US-NATO mission in Afghanistan, as saying that Pakistan, Russia, and Iran supported Taliban fighters.

    The Taliban launched its first major attack since a recent ceasefire against government forces earlier on Wednesday. At least 30 Afghan troops were killed during an insurgent offensive in Badghis Province. British Army Lt. Gen. Richard J. Cripwell, deputy commander of the Resolute Support mission, told reporters that they were disappointed that the Taliban decided to return to war.

    READ MORE: Taliban Reportedly Angry Militants Are Making Selfies With Gov't Forces (PHOTOS)

    The Taliban refused to extend a ceasefire they put in place through June 19 to mark the end of Ramadan. On June 7, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced a temporary unilateral ceasefire for the period between June 11 and June 19 but urged the Taliban, to no avail, to continue the cessation of hostilities.

    * Daesh, also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL, is a terrorist organization, banned in Russia

    Related:

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    Taliban Says Ceasefire Won't Be Extended, Fighting to Resume - Reports
    Afghan President Prolongs Ceasefire With Taliban After Daesh Suicide Attack
    Tags:
    ceasefire, Daesh, Taliban, Afghanistan, United States, Russia
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