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Taliban End Truce With Kabul

by Newsweek Pakistan

File Photo. Noorullah Shirzada—AFP

Insurgents say their fighters will not target foreign forces, but will recommence operations against Afghanistan government forces

The Taliban on Monday ordered their fighters to resume military strikes against Afghan forces—mere days after signing a peace deal with Washington that envisages a full withdrawal of foreign troops from the war-torn state within 14 months.

A partial truce between the U.S., the Taliban and Afghan forces was in force for a week prior to the signing of the U.S.-Taliban accord in Doha on Saturday, and was extended over the weekend. On Monday, a week ahead of intra-Afghan talks, the insurgents said it was now over.

“The reduction in violence… has ended now and our operations will continue as normal,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told news agency AFP. “As per the (U.S.-Taliban) agreement, our mujahideen will not attack foreign forces but our operations will continue against the Kabul administration forces.”

The Taliban’s military commission has circulated instructions for fighters to resume operations, according to a document provided to AFP.

The dissolution of the truce has raised questions about the intra-Afghan talks scheduled in Oslo for March 10. President Ashraf Ghani had said on Sunday he would continue the partial truce at least until those talks began. However, his rejection of key component of the peace deal—that of a prisoner swap—angered the militants, who have said that if their comrades are not released, no talks can happen.

There has been no comment from Washington about dissolution of the truce, though it had earlier said that it expected the Taliban to maintain the reduction of violence ahead of the launch of intra-Afghan talks. “The reduction in violence was a confidence builder. We’re very serious about our obligations and we expect the Taliban will be serious about their obligations,” U.S. Forces-Afghanistan commander Gen. Scott Miller said late on Monday. “The United States has been very clear about our expectations—the violence must remain low.”

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