The Pentagon on Wednesday downplayed the Taliban’s attacks on Afghan security forces.
The two US officials say that, so far, the provincial capitals of the thirty-four provinces in Afghanistan have not witnessed Taliban attacks.
US Army Chief Mark Milley said that Taliban attacks in the past twenty-four to forty-eight hours have been small and at a low level.
“The Taliban have signed up to a whole series of conditions, Milley said, adding: “Of significance, there’s no attack on 34 provincial capitals, no attacks in Kabul, no high profile attacks, no suicide bombers, no vehicle-borne suicide, no attacks against U.S. forces, no attack against coalition [forces],”
The US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, meanwhile, said he considered one of the reasons for the continued violence to be the lack of control of the Taliban leadership over extremists within the Taliban group.
“Keeping that group of people on board is a challenge. They’ve got their range of hard-liners and soft-liners and so they’re wrestling with that too, I think,” said Esper.
However, Mark Esper sees the current opportunity as leading towards a “historic” Afghan peace.
“We have an historic opportunity here, we signed on Saturday in Qatar, I was in Kabul at the same time–this agreement that lays out a framework by which we could proceed toward an eventual intra-Afghan negotiation. It’s supposed to happen at this point five days from now,” Esper added.
According to the US-Taliban peace agreement, the number of US troops in Afghanistan will fall to 8,600 within 135 days after the agreement was signed, and all US and foreign troops will be out in 14 months. But the troop withdrawal agreement is “conditional” and subject to the Taliban fulfilling their commitments.
Afghan Govt: Taliban Attacks Decreasing
NATO Secretary General urged the Taliban to keep their commitments.
For the previous day, Wednesday, March 4, the reported Taliban attacks were down to 11, according to Nusrat Rahimi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior. Rahimi said there were 11 fatalities–both Afghan forces and civilians–in that time.
And the above numbers are a dramatic decrease from March 1-3, which was 76 reported attacks, with 30 Afghan soldiers and four civilians killed, as reported by Jawed Faisal, a spokesperson from the National Security Adviser’s office.
“The Taliban had attacked 76 in the first three days of March–that is in contradiction with the deal,” said Jawed Faisal, spokesman for the Office of National Security Advisor.
The Taliban’s resumption of attacks across Afghanistan–following the signed US-Taliban peace deal and President Ashraf Ghani’s refusal to release 5,000 prisoners–sparked international and domestic condemnation and calls for violence to again be lessened.
On Wednesday, the US targeted Taliban fighters with an airstrike in Helmand province, which, according to a US forces spokesman, was the first in 11 days.
Zalmay Khalilzad, US special envoy for Afghanistan on Twitter called on the Taliban to work for peace.
“Increasing violence is a threat to the peace agreement and must be reduced immediately,” Khalilzad tweeted.
The Foreign Ministry of Germany also demanded an immediate reduction in violence and said that Germany will keep a presence in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Afghanistan.
“Taliban attacks against the Afghanistan security forces must end immediately. It is of utmost importance that the international community does not leave Afghanistan alone now. Germany stands ready to continue its military engagement within the NATO training mission.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg urged the Taliban to keep their commitments.
“The Taliban must honor their commitments. We need to see reduction in violence and avoid undermining the agreement,” said Stoltenberg “NATO remains committed to Afghanistan’s security and stability. And we will continue to support the Afghan security forces with funding and with training.”