NBC News has cited several unnamed White House officials as saying that the US government has obtained “persuasive intelligence” that the Taliban do not plan to comply with a peace agreement they inked with the US late last month.
“They have no intention of abiding by their agreement”, the officials claimed, adding that it can be perceived as evidence that sheds light on the Taliban's “true intentions”.
They argued that it is ostensibly in sync with what Taliban sources earlier said in Pakistan, where they asserted that the militant group sees the peace process as a way to secure the pullout of US “occupiers” from Afghanistan.
After that the Taliban will launch an attack on the US-backed Afghan government, according to the sources.
“We will ask the Afghan leadership and other political factions that since the US has accepted us and recognised our position, it is time for you to accept us and give us the country peacefully”, the sources added.
The remarks come after US President Donald Trump admitted that it's “not supposed to happen that way, but it possibly will”, when asked whether the Taliban could "possibly" oust the Afghan government after the withdrawal of US troops.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, for his part, underscored that they “still have confidence the Taliban leadership is working to deliver on its commitments”, adding at the same time that Washington “knows” “the road ahead will be difficult”.
“The upsurge in violence in parts of Afghanistan over the last couple days is unacceptable. In no uncertain terms, violence must be reduced immediately for the peace process to move forward”, he pointed out.
Pompeo spoke after USFOR-A spokesman Colonel Sonny Leggett announced on his Twitter page that American troops conducted an airstrike against Taliban militants on Wednesday.
The US conducted an airstrike on March 4 against Taliban fighters in Nahr-e Saraj, Helmand, who were actively attacking an #ANDSF checkpoint. This was a defensive strike to disrupt the attack. This was our 1st strike against the Taliban in 11 days.— USFOR-A Spokesman Col Sonny Leggett (@USFOR_A) March 4, 2020
He said that it was a defensive measure, as the Taliban resumed operations against Afghan forces earlier this week. He also noted that the movement's forces conducted 43 attacks on Afghan troops on Tuesday in Helmand.
US-Taliban Peace Deal
The developments followed the US and the Taliban signing a landmark bilateral peace agreement in the Qatari capital of Doha on 29 February, a document that envisages a phased troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The US forces are due to be slimmed down to 8,600 within the first 135 days of the deal's announcement, while allied and coalition forces will be scaled down proportionately.
The deal obliges the US to seek economic cooperation for reconstruction with the new post-settlement Afghan Islamic government and avoid intervening in its internal affairs.
In return, the Taliban will take steps to prevent terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda*, from using Afghan soil to threaten the security of the US and its allies.
*Al-Qaeda, a terrorist group banned in Russia and a number of other countries