The U.S. military has pulled out of five bases in Afghanistan as part of its February agreement with the Taliban.
“July 13, 2020 marks 135 days since the signing of the U.S.-Taliban Agreement on February 29, 2020. As stipulated in the agreement, the United States agreed to reduce its forces in Afghanistan to 8,600 and withdraw from five bases. We have met this obligation. U.S. forces in Afghanistan remain in the mid-8,000s and five bases formerly occupied by U.S. forces have been transferred to our Afghan partners,” the Department of Defense (DOD) said in a statement on Tuesday.
“U.S. military presence in Afghanistan remains focused on capabilities – not numbers. We maintain the capabilities and authorities necessary to protect ourselves, our Allies and partners, and U.S. national interests,” the DOD continued. “We will continue to execute our counterterrorism mission while simultaneously supporting the 38-nation NATO Resolute Support Train, Advise, Assist mission and Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) as they work to secure peace in the country.”
“The United States honors its obligations. All sides should reduce violence and embark on intra-Afghan negotiations capable of achieving a negotiated and lasting peace for Afghanistan,” the DOD concluded.
The United States and Taliban signed the “Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan” to deescalate tensions between the terror group and the Afghan government and to organize the eventual pullout of U.S. forces and coalition partners from the country. President Trump has sought to pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan and bring an end to a war that has gone on for nearly two decades.
“After decades of conflict, we have come to an understanding with the Taliban on a significant reduction in violence across #Afghanistan. This is an important step on a long road to peace, and I call on all Afghans to seize this opportunity,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at the time the treaty was announced.
A statement from the Taliban said that the agreement would pave the way for the release of prisoners, as well.
Talks between the U.S. and Taliban froze last year in September. Trump announced that negotiations were “dead” after Taliban militants killed a U.S. soldier. The president had planned to meet with Taliban leaders at Camp David close to the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks that killed thousands of Americans.
“Unbeknownst to almost everyone, the major Taliban leaders and, separately, the President of Afghanistan, were going to secretly meet with me at Camp David on Sunday,” Trump said at the time. “They were coming to the United States tonight. Unfortunately, in order to build false leverage, they admitted to an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great great soldiers, and 11 other people. I immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations. What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position?”
Recent reports suggest that Russian agents attempted to offer bounties to Taliban agents who killed American soldiers. Top military and intelligence officials have said that the program’s existence has not been confirmed.
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