Taliban officials say they and U.S. have agreed that all foreign troops will leave in 18 months
Reuters reports that the Taliban says the U.S. and its NATO allies will withdraw all troops from Afghanistan within 18 months. Currently, 14,000 American military personnel are operating as advisers and trainers and occasionally engaged in combat support in the country. If the news is right and the draft agreement becomes reality, it would mean the U.S. would finally leave Afghanistan after nearly 19 years of war that began less than a month after the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., in 2001.
The details were given to Reuters by Taliban sources at the end of six days of talks with U.S. special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar aimed at ending the United States’ longest war.
They have yet to be confirmed by U.S. officials nor has either side released an official statement. Officials at the U.S. embassy in Kabul were not immediately available to comment. […]
According to the Taliban sources, the hardline Islamic group gave assurances that Afghanistan will not be allowed to be used by al-Qaeda and Islamic State militants to attack the United States and its allies — a key early demand of Washington.
There was no word from the State Department or other U.S. officials about the draft plan. But Khalilzad tweeted early Saturday:
1/3 After six days in Doha, I’m headed to #Afghanistan for consultations. Meetings here were more productive than they have been in the past. We made significant progress on vital issues.
— U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad (@US4AfghanPeace) January 26, 2019
Even as the negotiations were underway, the Taliban engaged in nearly daily attacks, including some on Kabul, the capital.
Reuters reports that the proposed agreement contains provisions for mutual release of prisoners and ending Washington’s international travel ban on some Taliban leaders. The deal also hints that an interim Afghan government could be established once a ceasefire is arranged, according to Taliban sources.
Since the war began countless numbers of Afghan soldiers and civilians have been killed. The U.S. has lost 2,419 military personnel, and 1,142 NATO soldiers have died in Afghanistan.