Taliban, Afghan forces clash despite talk of breakthrough in peace deal

15 February, 2020 12:00 AM printer

KABUL: Afghan government forces and Taliban insurgents waged war against each other in the past 24 hours despite US officials saying there had been a breakthrough in recent days in peace talks to end the 18-year-old conflict, reports Reuters.

While negotiators from the warring sides pressed on with meetings in Doha, Qatar, the Taliban and the Afghan government both reported fighting on the ground. The Afghan defense ministry said an air strike had killed a senior Taliban commander in northern Balkh province on Thursday evening.

“As result of a targeted air strike by Afghan air forces, Mawlavi Sardar Mohammad, a key member of the Taliban military commission was killed along with eight others,” the ministry said in a statement.

The Taliban did not confirm the air strike. A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said the insurgents had killed six Afghan soldiers, including two officers, in an attack on a checkpoint in northern Kunduz province.

Afghan, Taliban and US sources said a peace deal could be signed this month, allowing a withdrawal of some of 13,000 US troops and thousands of other NATO personnel that remain in Afghanistan following the US intervention to oust the Taliban in 2001.