Afghanistan's acting interior minister, Masoud Anarabi has said on February 18 that the much-awaited peace deal between Taliban and Afghanistan will come into force in next five days. According to international media reports, the “reduction in violence” period will begin next week which will be based on the negotiations between the Taliban and the United States.
Last week, while US President Donald Trump had said that the peace deal is “very close” and he thinks there is a good chance that the US will reach a peace deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Other international reports also stated that both sides are set to sign their peace deal by the end of February which includes a plan for a ceasefire for at least seven days along with the withdrawal of all American forces from Afghanistan over a period of 18 months. However, the week-long period has reportedly still not commenced.
However, even after US claimed that its peace accord with the Taliban is almost complete, there has not been any decrease in the intensity of insurgency operations. According to international reports, the Taliban fighters attacked the Afghan government forces overnight and the militant commanders said on February 17 that such operations would continue until they receive new orders from their leadership based on the deal signed with the US to reduce violence in the region.
A Taliban commander in Helmand which is a southern province that has seen some of the fiercest fightings told an international news agency that their “leadership has not conveyed any message about a ceasefire” to them. Moreover, Taliban commanders in Paktika and Nangarhar, two other provinces which are reportedly regarded as strongholds for the militant group also said that they would continue the attacks on Afghan forces.
On the night of February 15, commanders of Taliban had attacked the forces of the Afghan government that were reportedly manning a checkpoint in the northern province of Kunduz. According to the statement by Taliban spokesperson, Zabiullah Mujahid, the group killed 19 military personnel. Meanwhile, the Afghan defence ministry also confirmed the attack but stated the death toll as five. Afghan government's statement also mentioned the retaliatory airstrikes by their side.
Meanwhile, while addressing the violence in Afghanistan, NATO Secretay General Jens Stoltenberg said that the Taliban will have to show “real will” and “stability” in order to reduce the violence in the region. Stoltenberg said that “situation remains difficult” in Afghanistan but the organisation is committed to the long-term security and stability of the war-stricken country.