Taliban says US ‘bombarding civilians, houses’ in deal violation

The statement comes a day after Pentagon said Taliban has failed to meet its side of the peace agreement signed last year.

Taliban delegates shake hands during talks with the Afghan government in Qatar [File: Ibraheem al Omari/Reuters]

The Taliban has accused the United States of violating a landmark deal signed between the two sides, after the Pentagon said the group had failed to meet its side of the agreement.

“The other side have violated the agreement, almost every day they are violating it,” Mohammad Naeem, a Taliban spokesman in Qatar, told AFP news agency on Friday.

“They are bombarding civilians, houses and villages, and we have informed them from time to time, these are not just violations of the agreement but violations of human rights.”

The US military has in recent months carried out air strikes against the Taliban fighters in defence of Afghan forces in some provinces.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid added on Twitter that the allegations against the group were “unfounded” and that it was “fully committed” to the agreement.

The Pentagon on Thursday said Taliban’s refusal to meet commitments to reduce violence in Afghanistan is raising questions about whether all US troops will be able to leave by May as required under the peace agreement signed in February 2020.

The agreement, signed in Doha last year, required the Taliban to halt attacks on US forces, sharply decrease the level of violence in the country, and advance peace talks with the government in Kabul.

In return, the US would steadily reduce its troop levels in the country, and remove all forces by May this year.

Former President Donald Trump ordered US troops level in Afghanistan cut to 2,500 just days before he left office earlier this month, presenting successor Joe Biden with difficult decisions about how to retain leverage against the Taliban in support of peace talks.

Pentagon chief spokesman John Kirby said the US stands by its commitment for a full troops withdrawal, but the agreement also calls for the Taliban to cut ties with al-Qaeda and reduce violence.

“Without them meeting their commitments to renounce terrorism and to stop the violent attacks against the Afghan National Security Forces, it’s very hard to see a specific way forward for the negotiated settlement,” Kirby said. “But we’re still committed to that.”

White House and State Department officials have made it clear the Biden administration plans to take a new look at the peace agreement.

The White House said Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, told his Afghan counterpart in a phone call last Friday that the new administration will “review” the deal.

The newly installed Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday the administration wanted to take a detailed look to “understand exactly what is in the agreement” before deciding how to proceed.

Taliban representatives and the Afghan government earlier this month resumed peace talks in Qatar – the Gulf state where the armed group maintains an office – aimed at ending decades of conflict.

But frustration and fear have grown over a recent spike in violence, and both sides blame the other.

Source: News Agencies