US, Taliban ‘re-set’ deal after more than 5,000 families displaced in Helmand conflicts

By: The Kabul Times

KABUL: The US and Taliban have agreed to a “re-set” by “strictly adhering” to the implementation of their attempted peace deal signed earlier this year, Donald Trump’s top envoy for Afghanistan has said.
Zalmay Khalilzad wrote on Twitter that he and the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, Scott Miller, had organized meetings with the Taliban and agreed to refresh their previous commitments.
It comes after more than 5,000 families have been displaced during recent fighting.
The US envoy said in a series of Tweets: “We agreed to re-set actions by strictly adhering to implementation of all elements of the US-Taliban Agreement and all commitments made.” He added: “This means reduced numbers of operations. At present too many Afghans are dying. With the re-set, we expect that number to drop significantly.
“Attacks have been on the rise in recent weeks – threatening the peace process and alarming the Afghan people and their regional and international supporters.”
The terms of the agreement were reached in February, with the promise that foreign forces would leave Afghanistan by May 2021 if the Taliban ceased its links with belligerent groups. The overall aim of the pact is to reduce the violence in the 19-year war, establish a permanent ceasefire and a power-sharing agreement with the Afghan government.
However, the past week has seen heavy fighting in the southern Helmand province after Taliban insurgents launched a major offensive in the area. They staged coordinated attacks in different parts of the province, including its capital Lashkar Gah. The fighting has resulted in the displacement of around 5,600 families.
Ajab Gul said his family had been in Lashkar Gah for four days. The 25-year-old said: “The Taliban have taken over our village and both sides in the battle are using light and heavy weapons, so how could we stay there?”
Afghanistan’s refugee department has estimated that, considering Afghan families tend to have around seven family members each, around 40,000 people have most likely been displaced.
The Taliban controls around 80% of Helmand province, and every time it has attempted to claim the provincial capital, the Afghan security forces, although limited in control, fought back.
The Trump administration initiated airstrikes against the Taliban in the past week, while the military group took on major checkpoints and moved closer to Lashkar Gah.
Diplomats and officials have warned that the rise in violence is crippling the trust that is much-needed for the success of current peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government in Doha, Qatar.
However a top Afghan government negotiator has said that the US president may have added fuel to the fire, giving the Taliban the upper hand.
Trump tweeted that US troops in Afghanistan should be home by Christmas.
Afghanistan’s head of High Council for National Reconciliation Dr. Abdullah Abdullah said: “Nobody has given any clarity.”
The Taliban “might see it in their advantage” and come back by force if the US withdrew, he added.

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