Delay in troops withdrawal to not go unanswered: Taliban

Army soldier sits on a back of an army vehicle at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Kabul

An Afghan National Army soldier sits on a back of an army vehicle at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan April 21, 2021.

President Joe Biden set 1 May as the official start of the withdrawal of the remaining forces - up to 3,500 USA troops and about 7,000 North Atlantic Treaty Organisation soldiers.

The U.S. State Department gave no immediate response to Reuters over the existence of any such document.

Instead, the Taliban intensified attacks on Afghan government forces, and civilian casualties have spiralled.

Before his election defeat, Donald Trump had set 1 May as the date by which all United States military personnel would have left.

President Joe Biden applauded his own administration for supposedly "ending the forever war in Afghanistan" during remarks to Congress on Wednesday, despite the fact that he acted to prolong the war beyond the May 1 deadline set by predecessor Donald Trump.

US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops entered Afghanistan in October 2001 to root out Al-Qaeda perpetrators following the 9/11 attacks on the U.S.

The US military withdrawal from Afghanistan is now formally underway, according to the White House and several US defense officials. We went to Afghanistan to get the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11, and we said we would follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell to do it.

2,442 USA troops have been killed and 20,666 wounded since 2001. The Taliban is now thought to control more than half of the country.

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However, he said Taliban fighters would wait for a decision from the leadership before launching any attacks and that decision will be based on "the sovereignty, values and higher interests of the country".

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid declined to comment on the so-called "ring of protection" agreement. A U.S. Navy carrier strike group was also deployed in the region for support.

Clearly having the militants holding positions around Western bases presents a danger if no understanding is reached.

Two Taliban sources and one official source said negotiations had revolved around the proposed deadline extension in exchange for the United States not getting involved in Afghan military operations against the Taliban; getting the Taliban to commit to re-joining the Turkey conference if they were provided with an agenda on what would be discussed there; and possibly declaring a ceasefire over the upcoming Eid holiday. "That said, the Taliban is less likely to attack foreign forces now that it knows there is a specific date when they will be leaving".

Afghan defence ministry spokesman Fawad Aman said the Taliban had ramped up violence against the Afghan people and their government, while holding fire against foreign forces.

But according to coalition figures, it said, 115 Afghan military personnel were killed and 39 wounded in 31 insider attacks in the first three months of this year.

The comment from the al Qaeda operatives has come as a warning that the group might be looking to re-enter Afghanistan as the USA troops prepare to move out, as per the deal made with the Taliban.

Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia Programme at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, sympathised with that view, saying: "they have every right to lambaste a U.S. -Taliban agreement for failing to bring a semblance of relief to Afghans themselves".

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