Kabul, April 6 (IANS) The Taliban has blamed the US for violating an agreement for peace in Afghanistan which was signed between the two sides on February 29 in Doha.

On Sunday, the Taliban said US forces and their allies had repeatedly targeted bases and locations of the group in various parts of the country which it described as violations of the agreement and warned that such acts could provoke the group’s fighters to respond, reports Efe news.

It accused the US of “repeated violations” by carrying out airstrikes and attacks against bases, civilian targets, night raids and drone strikes in areas where there was no active fighting.

Colonel Sonny Leggett, US forces spokesman in Afghanistan, said in a statement on Twitter that they would defend its partners “if attacked, in compliance with the agreement”.

“US Forces-Afghanistan has upheld, and continues to uphold, the military terms of the US-Taliban agreement, any assertion otherwise is baseless,” he tweeted.

“The Taliban must reduce violence. A reduction in violence is the will of the Afghan people and necessary to allow the political process to work toward a settlement suitable for all Afghans.

“We once again call on all parties to focus their efforts on the global pandemic of COVID-19,” Legett added.

“The process to release 5,000 (Taliban) prisoners (as was agreed in agreement) has been delayed without any logical reason,” the Taliban said in a statement on Sunday.

It added that there had been “several evident violations” committed against the agreement in southern Helmand, Kandahar, western Farah, northern Kunduz, Badakhshan, Balkh and in eastern Nangarhar and Paktia provinces and other parts of the country.

“We have timely shared the details of the violations with the Americans through the specified communication channel” the group said in a statement emailed to Efe in Kabul.

“We seriously ask the American side to respect the provisions of the agreement and encourage its allies too to fully respect the provisions of the agreement” it said.

“If such violations continue, it will develop an atmosphere of distrust and will not only harm the agreement, but will force Mujahidins (Taliban fighters) to react and respond that will increase the level of violence” in the country, the statement continued.

The Taliban claimed to have fully “respected” the provisions of the agreement and said it remained committed to the promises made in the signed pact.

But the group tried to justify its recent deadly attacks against Afghan security forces, not to be against the provisions of their deal with the US.

“As per the signed agreement, until there is a separate agreement with the Afghan sides (government) and a comprehensive ceasefire is agreed upon, until that time the Islamic Emirate can carry out attacks against all military facilities and bases of the Kabul administration, both in urban and rural area” the statement continued.

The Taliban said it was ready for intra-Afghan talks to discuss a comprehensive ceasefire with the government and political groups but if 5,000 prisoners were released as per the Doha peace agreement.

A total of 5,000 Taliban and 1,000 security forces prisoners were expected to be freed before March 10, but the process has been delayed because of differences over security guarantees between the two sides.

A three-member Taliban delegation arrived in Kabul on March 30 and has engaged in talks with the Afghan government to finalise the technical process for the prisoner release.

It was hoped that a comprehensive ceasefire could eventually lead to political settlement to end the 19-year long war that has gripped the country.




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