A rocket attack killed eight people in Kabul at the weekend and wounded two dozen more. Video footage showed a stream of school children running to find safety.
The attack happened as the outgoing United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met in Doha, Qatar, with Afghan and Taliban peace negotiators. Isis claimed responsibility for the attack, according to a monitoring site.
At least 186 pro-government forces and 163 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan this month. The Taliban have stopped attacks on American troops, but in the past few weeks they have seized several rural regions.
As seen in this video, 1 of the several rockets hit a girls school and created horror among the students pic.twitter.com/IX9e8z9I6O— Ahmad Mukhtar (@AhMukhtar) November 21, 2020
Afghanistan is back in the news for familiar and bad reasons as the 20th anniversary of American military strikes after September 11, 2001 and the start of an endless war inches ever closer on the horizon.
In the dying days of the Trump administration, the Pentagon is planning to nearly halve the number of US troops in Afghanistan to 2500.
But it seems inevitable that US involvement there will pass to yet another administration - from George W Bush to Barack Obama to Donald Trump and to Joe Biden.
The new leader will have to decide what form that will take; whether to back the current Taliban talks; how to deal with Isis there; and how to respond to claims this year of Russian bounties on coalition troops.
Australia is also grappling with a shocking stain on its own military legacy in Afghanistan.
A four-year investigation has found evidence that Australian troops killed 39 Afghan prisoners, farmers and civilians.
Some of the brutal killings, which mostly occurred in 2012 and 2013, could rise to the level of war crimes.
The official report released last week says starkly that: "None of these are incidents of disputable decisions made under pressure in the heat of battle."
Australia's SBS reports that Afghan witnesses say many more such incidents occurred.
There have been previous allegations of unlawful killings against US and British troops in Afghanistan.
"It's important to understand that the elite Australian special forces were not alone in committing these atrocities," said Patricia Gossman, a senior researcher on Afghanistan for Human Rights Watch.
New Zealand has been through its own reckoning with the Inquiry into Operation Burnham over a 2010 NZSAS raid.
Australia’s mission in Afghanistan – what was it again? | Daniel Flitton https://t.co/jcZlLqjuzw— The Lowy Institute (@LowyInstitute) November 20, 2020
The classic truism about war is it can be easy to start or intervene in but is very difficult to get out of.
After a time the reasons for being there tend to become submerged beneath fears of what would happen should the foreign forces withdraw. Are the conditions right on the ground for a pull out? Will opponents take advantage of a vacuum? Is the client regime too corrupt and unstable and are the local security forces up to it?
Some countries and territories manage over time to gradually remake themselves after conflicts. Even then, peace can be fragile and hard to keep.
Sunday marked 25 years since the signing of the Dayton, Ohio, draft peace deal to settle the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia, sparked by the break-up of Yugoslavia. In three and a half years of ethnic-cleansing and genocide, more than 100,000 people perished and millions were displaced.
The agreement was later signed in Paris by the presidents of Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia and was backed by a Nato mission. A legal process for justice was set up. However, new borders enforced ethnic divisions and deep social and economic problems have remained.
It is probably a clear sign of how badly Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria have fared since, but the end of the Balkans' conflict seems a success story in comparison.