02/15/2020, 09.30
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Afghanistan: US and Taliban agree on 'partial' truce

The truce should precede the signing of a broader agreement.  However, people continue to die in the country.  157,000 victims of the conflict, including 43,000 civilians.  The number of Taliban attacks has grown following the failure of a previous negotiation with Washington.


Kabul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Taliban and the United States have reached an agreement in principle for a partial seven-day truce that should serve as a basis for the conclusion of a broader understanding.  The two sides have long been conducting complex negotiations to end over 18 years of conflict in Afghanistan.

It is not yet clear when the "stepping down" of armed operations should start.  The Kabul government said today, February 15, that military actions against Islamic extremists are continuing.  Five airstrikes have been carried out by the anti-Taliban coalition in the past 24 hours.  Six guerrillas were killed, but eight civilians are also among the victims.

On February 13, five children died in a bomb attack on a madrassa in Kunduz, in the north of the country, a city that is often targeted by Taliban formations.  On February 8, in the eastern province of Nangarhar, two American soldiers and an Afghan soldier were killed by a man wearing a local army uniform.

The heirs of Mullah Omar are active in almost all the Afghan provinces, where other Islamic armed groups are also present, such as the local branch of Isis and al-Qaeda.  Sensitive to the demands of his electorate, who wants the return of US troops home, President Donald Trump said he was ready to close an agreement with the extremist Afghan group.

Currently 13,000 US troops are deployed in the country, supported by 17,000 staff made available by NATO and other Washington partners.  Since the outbreak of the conflict in 2001, when the Taliban controlled Afghanistan and hosted Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda who masterminded the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, US forces have suffered over 2200 casualties.

According to Brown University data, the conflict has killed 157,000 so far, of which 43,000 are civilians.  In early 2019, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had revealed that 45,000 members of his armed forces had been killed in the past five years.

The Taliban and the United States had started discussions about a "roadmap for peace" as early as December 2018, but the negotiations proved immediately complicated, especially due to the refusal of the guerrillas to negotiate with the legitimate government of Kabul.

After several negotiating sessions in Qatar, Washington announced that it was ready to withdraw 5400 soldiers within 20 weeks of signing the final agreement.  In return, the US asked the Taliban not to turn Afghanistan back into a jihadist "sanctuary".

Negotiations were called off last September by Trump, after the killing of an American soldier by the Taliban militias.  Since then, guerrilla attacks on American and regular Afghan forces have seen a surge, as reported by the Sigar (Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction), the US agency that oversees the reconstruction of the battered Asian country.

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