PICTURED: Taliban fighters. Photo credit: Tolo News.
DOHA, Qatar. April 19th, 2020. The office of the Taliban delegation, Doha, Qatar, have submitted a statement listing 50 U.S. violations of the pre-peace deal and ceasefire that was agreed between the organization and the United States in February which spanned 19 provinces of the South Asian nation between March 9th and April 10th.
Their statement gave the precise details of each incident, including the kind of attack, the victims, and the location where it took place. 33 were attributed to U.S. drone strikes alone, which the United States military have come to heavily rely on for being able to conduct remote, and declared as well as sometimes illegal warfare unsanctioned by Congress and undeclared by the President.
The other 17 events are attributed to night raids and mortar shelling. According to TOLO News, Afghanistan’s primary news network out of Kabul, the Taliban’s statement claims they have lost 35 of their fighters in 17 of the incidents, and they blame foreign forces for killing 65 civilians in 33 incidents. This according to a 3-page document shared exclusively with TOLO.
An already hindered, peace process, this will no doubt complicate existing attempts to calm the fires of war still raging almost 20 years since the United States ignited them.
A hindered process
The Taliban have previously claimed the United States has violated the barely-two-months-old pre-peace deal, however this marks the first time they have compiled and provided figures for any such claims.
Coupled with constantly-delayed and rocky prisoner-exchange negotiations between the Kabul government and the Taliban, the chances that any lasting peace is on the horizon seems dubious.
TOLO reports that 2,162 attacks were launched by the Taliban since the ending of a one week reduction in violence agreement made between Afghan Security Forces and NATO/U.S. forces, and the Taliban after the signing in Doha.
425 attacks were made by Afghan and NATO forces during the same time period. Almost all of the Taliban attacks have occured, as reported by Taliban spokesmen, against the Kabul regime in a posturing strategy to gain better terms of negotiating.
However rather one-sidedly, only 9 U.S. citizens have died in 2020 in Afghanistan, 7 or perhaps even fewer of whom were victims of the Taliban attacks.
Jason Ditz writing for Antiwar.com says that the US-Taliban deal expressly forbade attacks on Taliban fighters in their homes as well as in residential districts. “The Taliban has complained that this has been happening virtually since the deal was signed,” writes Ditz.
This was typical of the violence during the period of warfare conducted against the Taliban during the years covered in The Intercept’s “The Drone Papers”, which explain that the Taliban had no way to fight against or defend themselves against Hellfire missiles and Reaper Drones.
Top U.S. general in Afghanistan, Gen. Scott Miller, also told TOLO News in a statement that “All sides, but especially the Taliban, must reduce violence to allow the political process to take hold”.
Col. Sonny Leggett, spokesperson for the U.S. forces in Afghanistan, details that the United States “remains committed” to the deal with the Taliban, adding that the “U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, in accordance with the written terms of the agreement, continue to support and defend the Afghan Security Forces”.
Leggett also stated several years ago that the civilian casualty figures for the first half of 2019 as reported by the United Nations were incorrect, and that U.S. military’s audits are more accurate, which concluded an unspecified number smaller than was reported by the UN.
However as Ditz pointed out at the time, the Pentagon long ago stopped reporting Afghan civilian deaths to the public, as detailed poignantly in The Drone Papers, where 90% of the people killed during Operation Haymaker were unidentified individuals and not target approved for assassination by President Obama.