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Released Taliban fighters returning to battlefields

Taliban prisoners great each other as they are in the process of being potentially released from Pul-e-Charkhi prison, on the outskirts of Kabul on July 31, 2020. - Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on July 31 ordered the release of 500 Taliban prisoners as part of a new ceasefire that could lead into long-delayed peace talks. (Photo by WAKIL KOHSAR / AFP) (Photo by WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Suraya Raiszada

Half of 5,000 Taliban prisoners who have been released from Afghanistan prisons have returned battlefields and are fighting against Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) in various parts of the country.
A number of Afghan lawmakers and military experts in their interviews with The Kabul Times by expressing concern over returning of Taliban fighters released recently from Afghanistan prisons say returning of released Taliban fighters to battlefields has strengthened their side as violence has unprecedentedly increased recently in the country.
Parliament’s commission on internal security says unfortunately released Taliban fighters from prisons are now in battlefields fighting the country’s defense and security forces and the issue can be against peace agreement.
Based on the Foreign Policy’s most recent research, nearly 60 percent of the 5,000 Taliban fighters who have been released from Afghanistan prisons have returned battlefields where a number of them have been appointed as military commanders fighting against Afghan security forces.
68 percent of the 108 Taliban fighters who have been released recently from prisons and interviewed for the research have retaken arms and returned battlefields for fighting Afghan security forces.
Previously, acting minister of defense Asadullah Khalid had said that a number of Taliban prisoners who have been released from Afghanistan prisons have returned battlefields and were fighting with Afghan security forces.
One of the reasons that can prove the issue is the increasing violence in various parts of the country. The ministry of defense has repeatedly said that Taliban attacks are in the highest level.
Afghan military experts believe that by returning Taliban prisoners to battlefields have considerably strengthened the group as violence has increased unprecedentedly after 5,000 prisoners have been released from Afghanistan prisons.
“As Taliban fighters have turned to guerilla-type of fighting, returning half of prisoners to battlefields has somehow strengthened their combat machine; therefore, violence has increased in many parts of the country,” said Haidar Hemat, an Afghan expert.
He said that as no considerable progress has been seen in talks between Afghanistan government and Taliban side in Qatar for the past three week, Taliban fighters have increased their violence and are trying to gain more territories to get further concession in talks with Afghanistan government.
Meanwhile, head of High Council for National Reconciliation Dr. Abdullah Abdullah in his recent remarks has said that a number of Taliban prisoners who have been released from Afghanistan prisons have returned battlefields, adding that it could be a clear violation from the agreement committed by the Taliban.
Afghanistan government officials have asked the US side signing the peace deal with the Taliban and Pakistan side having close relation with the group to exert increasing pressures on the group to say yes to a comprehensive ceasefire in the country.
Currently, Badakhshan, Takhar, Kunduz, Kandahar, Farah, Helmand and Urzgan are among provinces that have witnessed increasing violence and Taliban attacks in recent weeks. In a most recent move, Badakhshan governor has claimed that the Taliban in violation to their commitment has intensified their attacks in some districts of the province.
In an interview with The Kabul Times correspondent, Badakhshan governor Zekria Sawda claimed the Taliban recently released from prisons have returned to the battle grounds and fighting security forces.
He said security forces have arrested some Taliban during a clash in the Kof Ab district, adding that the detained Taliban had been identified as those who recently freed from the prisons.
This comes after Afghanistan government released 5,000 prisoners of the Taliban group in accordance to the peace deal signed between US and Taliban in late Feb this year although the released Taliban fighters have committed to not returning battlefields.

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