00:54 GMT +318 February 2018
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    Taliban new leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada is seen in an undated photograph, posted on a Taliban twitter feed on May 25, 2016, and identified separately by several Taliban officials, who declined be named

    Taliban Leader Not to Improve Prospects of Reconciliation in Afghanistan

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    The reshuffle of senior Taliban leadership will not improve the prospects for peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, according to the report of the private intelligence firm Soufan Group.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Newly ascendant Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhundzada is unlikely to facilitate the peace process between the movement and the government of Afghanistan, the private intelligence firm Soufan Group said in a report on Thursday.

    "The reshuffle of senior Taliban leadership will not improve the prospects for peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government," the report stated.

    Over the weekend, a US drone strike in Pakistan’s Balochistan province near the Afghan border killed Taliban’s leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour.

    On Wednesday, Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgency confirmed Mansour's death through its spokesman and named Akhundzada as the group's new leader.

    The Soufan Group said Taliban is currently facing not only disagreements within the movement, but also a growing challenge of the Daesh, which established a foothold in eastern Afghanistan.

    "The announcement of hardline cleric Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada as the Taliban’s new leader will not reunite the movement, nor will it stem defections to the Islamic State," the report added.

    On Wednesday, the US Defense Department told Sputnik that the appointment of Akhundzada as new leader of the Taliban will not interfere with US efforts to achieve reconciliation between the group and the government of Afghanistan.

    Afghanistan is experiencing significant political, social and security-related instability, as radical extremist organizations, including the Taliban, continue to stage attacks against civilian and state targets.

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    Soufan Group, Taliban, Haibatullah Akhundzada, Afghanistan
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