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US Embassy attack raises concerns of a shift in Taliban strategy

The US Embassy attack and others around Kabul cause few casualties but may signal the Taliban's desire to engage in a politically and psychologically effective war of attrition.

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Despite headlines that the attack on the US Embassy in Kabul Tuesday demonstrates the reach of the insurgency, defense analysts argue that at first glance, the strike doesn’t seem all that sophisticated, or even tricky, to pull off.

Insurgents with rocket-propelled grenades and sniper rifles took over a high-rise construction site near the embassy, taking shots at the high-walled compound and other targets.

The insurgents killed at least six people, including four Afghan policemen, and wounded 19 in the five-hour siege of the embassy and other simultaneous attacks in the capital, Afghan officials said.

“By itself, it’s unimportant and doesn’t reverse a pattern of gains at the tactical level,” says Anthony Cordesman, a defense specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The attack, however, is important and troubling, analysts add, because it may signal a worrisome shift in the way the insurgency has decided to wage war against America and its NATO partners.

Ultimately, offensives like this – which follow on the heels of a truck bomb assault on a base in Wardak Province, which borders Kabul, Saturday and another this summer on the Intercontinental Hotel, a popular spot with Westerners in the capital – may prove considerably more effective for the insurgency than fighting troops on battlefields in the south and east.

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