US forces in Afghanistan dismiss Taliban claims of peace deal violations

A photo taken on June 6, 2019, showing US soldiers looking over hill sides in the Nerkh district of Wardak province, Afghanistan.( AFP/ File photo)
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Updated 05 April 2020

US forces in Afghanistan dismiss Taliban claims of peace deal violations

  • Taliban have carried out hundreds of attacks across Afghanistan in recent weeks
  • Insurgents claim American, Afghan forces conducted airstrikes despite pledging not to

KABUL: US forces in Afghanistan dismissed Taliban allegations that the US had violated the terms of the Doha agreement, and said they would continue to defend their partners in compliance with the deal. 
The Afghan Taliban on Sunday accused the United States of violating parts of a historic peace deal, warning that further infringements could damage trust between the two sides.
But a spokesman for the US military, Col. Sonny Leggett, rejected the Taliban’s allegations on Sunday as “baseless.”
“USFOR-A has upheld, and continues to uphold, the military terms of the US-TB agreement; any assertion otherwise is baseless. USFOR-A has been clear- we will defend our ANDSF partners if attacked, in compliance with the agreement,” he said in a Twitter post.
As part of the deal struck between the two sides in Qatar in February, Washington agreed to facilitate the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners held by President Ashraf Ghani’s government in early March. Though the Taliban agreed to a one-week reduction in violence leading up to the signing of the peace deal, violence began surging after a delay in the prisoner release. 

US forces have been carrying out airstrikes against the insurgents since days after the agreement was inked in Doha and late last month, the New York Times reported the Taliban had carried out more than 300 attacks across Afghanistan in a single week, with major assaults in three northern provinces. 
But the Taliban statement said on Sunday the group had remained committed to the agreement and had “fully observed” it.
“There have been flagrant violations from the Americans and their local and foreign colleagues against us,” the statement said.
One of the peace agreement’s top conditions was for Washington to withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan within 14 months of signing the deal.
In return, the Taliban had pledged they would not use areas under their control to stage attacks against the world’s or US interests.
The Taliban statement further said American and Afghan forces had conducted airstrikes against civilian sites, while the Taliban have avoided staging attacks in cities and organizing significant strikes against government forces.
“Since we have witnessed repeated ignorance in this regard, we seriously demand the American side to observe the contents of the agreement and also inform their other colleagues to do so, too,” the insurgents’ statement said.
It added that the Taliban had shared their concerns with the US through a communication channel set up by both sides for the purpose before issuing a warning.
“If these violations go on, an atmosphere of mistrust will be created which not only will damage the deal but will also force the Mujahideen for reciprocal reaction and would increase the extent of the fighting,” the statement said.
The historic peace deal was signed after nearly a year and half of intensive talks between the Taliban and Washington, without including Ghani’s government. 
The Afghan civilian government refused to comment on the Taliban’s statement, and said that since Washington had struck the deal with the insurgents, it was the American administration that needed to respond-- not Kabul.
It was not immediately possible to get a comment from the US embassy on the matter.
Shafiq Haqpal, an analyst, believes that the Taliban’s statement has been long in the making.
“The Taliban seemed upset privately in recent weeks because America failed to fulfil its pledges based on the deal. The statement now clearly shows the Taliban’s public dissatisfaction, and that will have its impact in the future if not settled,” Haqpal said.


Pakistan to resume international flight operations

Updated 29 May 2020

Pakistan to resume international flight operations

  • Pakistan has largely rolled back its lockdown measures and resumed domestic flights this month

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will allow international flights to resume, an aviation official said on Friday, after largely closing its airspace to commercial flights since March to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Both national and foreign airlines shall be allowed to operate from all international airports of Pakistan with exception of Gwadar and Turbat,” said Abdul Sattar Khokhar, Senior Joint Secretary at the Civil Aviation Authority in a statement, adding that flights would be allowed from Saturday.
Pakistan has largely rolled back its lockdown measures and resumed domestic flights this month despite a rise in the rate of coronavirus infections. Some airlines received exemptions during the closure to enable international repatriation flights in and out of Pakistan.