"A group affiliated with the Islamic State has been trying to gain a foothold in the east of the country. But it has been the target of repeated operations from Afghan forces and airstrikes by the United States military, which have taken out about 700 fighters, according to a United States military spokesman. Despite that, the group has said that it was responsible for an increasing number of suicide missions in Kabul, the one on the hospital being the most sophisticated of them yet," Mujib Mashal and Fahim Abed write for the New York Times.
"The Afghan [ISIS] affiliate’s leader, Hafiz Saeed Khan, was killed in a US drone strike in August. The group’s support among local people has also been limited by its trademark brutality and imposition of a blinkered vision of Islam—including bans on smoking and poppy cultivation and the annulment of government-officiated weddings—in spite of local customs. Analysts have put the number of Isis fighters in Afghanistan at up to 2,000, though a close assessment is difficult to establish because of the uncertain toll of casualties and success of recruitment drives," Michael Safi writes for the Guardian.
"A casual observer of the war in Afghanistan can be forgiven for experiencing déjà vu while watching a U.S. military commander recommend to a new president the dispatch of thousands more troops. That is, after all, what happened in 2009, when General Stanley McChrystal warned President Barack Obama that 'mission failure' was likely unless he sent reinforcements. And now it has happened again, albeit on a smaller scale, with General John W. 'Mick' Nicholson Jr. warning President Donald J. Trump, in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, that a 'few thousand' more troops are needed simply to maintain 'a stalemate'," writes CFR's Max Boot.