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Report: US Intelligence Says Taliban Plan to Break Peace Deal

FILE - Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, leader of the Taliban delegation, and Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. envoy for peace in Afghanistan, shake hands after signing an agreement between members of Afghanistan's Taliban and the U.S. in Doha, Qatar, Feb. 29, 2020.

A U.S. media outlet reported Friday that the U.S. government had intelligence that the Taliban did not plan to abide by promises they made in the recent peace agreement with the United States.

NBC News cited three U.S. intelligence officials, who remained anonymous in the report, saying the U.S. intelligence indicated the Taliban viewed the peace process as a way to secure the withdrawal of U.S. troops. After the troops leave Afghanistan, the Taliban plan to attack the U.S.-backed government of Afghanistan, according to the report.

The U.S.-Taliban agreement signed last Saturday calls for the Taliban to stop harboring terrorists and to enter into peace talks with the Afghan government in exchange for a U.S. pledge to withdraw troops.

The deal sets the stage for Washington to close America’s longest war and bring home in the next 14 months roughly 13,000 troops from Afghanistan.

The agreement also requires both sides not to attack each other's forces and binds the insurgent group not to carry out suicide and other bombings in Afghan urban centers.

British soldiers with the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission arrive at the site of an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 6, 2020.
British soldiers with the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission arrive at the site of an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 6, 2020.

More violence

Despite the deal, there has been a surge in battlefield violence during this week. However, U.S. military commanders have played it down and vowed to uphold their part of the deal.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday, "We still have confidence the Taliban leadership is working to deliver on its commitments," despite the ongoing violence. However, he acknowledged the “road ahead will be difficult."

The Taliban insurgency swiftly denied its involvement in an attack Friday in which a gunman opened fire on a gathering in Kabul, killing at least 32 people and injuring about 60 others. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for that attack.

The U.S.-Taliban deal also calls for up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners being held in Afghan jails and 1,000 members of Afghan forces in insurgent custody to be freed in the run-up to intra-Afghan talks set for Tuesday.

However, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said after the deal was signed that he had not given any commitment to Washington to free Taliban prisoners.