A US official in Kabul, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Tuesday that the five bases closed in Afghanistan–in compliance with the US-Taliban peace agreement–were in Helmand, Uruzgan, Paktika and Laghman provinces.
The US peace envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, in a tweet on Tuesday morning said: “As we look to the next phase of implementation under the Agreement, our approach will remain conditions based. We will press for completion of prisoner releases, reduction of violence, complete delivery on CT (counterterrorism) commitments and start of and progress in intra-Afghan negotiations.”
The US has rapidly implemented the first phase of its commitments under the agreement, “including to reduce forces and depart five bases. NATO troops have come down in proportional numbers,” according to Khalilzad.
US troops in the country have been reduced to 8,600, according to US reports.
NATO has around 12,000 troops under the Resolute Support mission, which includes a portion of the 8,600 total US troops, according to the Resolute Support mission.
The US continues “our counter terror fight against groups like ISIS (Daesh) and al-Qaeda while also providing training, funding and supplies to ANDSF through the NATO RS mission,” said US troops spokesman in Afghanistan on Tuesday.
The US-Taliban deal signed on February 28 in Doha has remained unimplemented in some parts of the agreement, such as a reduction in violence and intra-Afghan negotiations, which should have happened 135 days after the accord. The intra-Afghan talks have not begun and violence has not been reduced.
Monday was the 136th day after the peace deal was signed, which raises hopes among the Afghan people and political elites who believed it would lead the country towards negotiations.
The Afghan government has blamed the Taliban for not implementing their commitments, saying the movements by the group should be scrutinized after the peace deal.
The prisoner exchange between the Afghan government and the Taliban is another complicated process that has delayed the intra-Afghan negotiations. The process should have happened 10 days after the peace deal, according to the agreement.
“Their (Taliban’s) key responsibility was a significant reduction in violence and an ‘unofficial’ ceasefire. Another responsibility of theirs was to cut their ties with all terrorist groups, but you saw in recent reports by the UN and US that this has not happened so far,” presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said. “A big role in the peace process is on the Taliban’s shoulders.”
According to the agreement, the Taliban has been asked to cut their ties with terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda, but a Pentagon report released earlier this month said al-Qaeda’s regional affiliate in Afghanistan maintains “close ties” to the Taliban and has an “enduring interest” in attacking US troops.