01:28 GMT19 January 2021
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    Weeks after a long-awaited deal between the US and the Taliban* was signed to end nearly two decades of violence in Afghanistan, the country continues to face repeated attacks by Taliban militants.

    The office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) claimed that NATO's US-led mission in Afghanistan has stopped providing key information on numbers of attacks conducted by the Taliban in the country.

    In its quarterly report released on Friday, the US watchdog said that “between March 1 and 31, the Taliban refrained from attacks against coalition forces; however they increased attacks against (Afghan forces) to levels above seasonal norms”.

    The watchdog underscored that data on enemy attacks "was one of the last remaining metrics SIGAR was able to use to report publicly on the security situation in Afghanistan”.

    Afghan security forces stand guard after an attack by Taliban militants near an Afghan National Army (ANA) outpost, in Kunduz Province on March 4, 2020.
    © AFP 2020 / STR
    Afghan security forces stand guard after an attack by Taliban militants near an Afghan National Army (ANA) outpost, in Kunduz Province on March 4, 2020.

    SIGAR also quoted Pentagon officials as saying that the US Department of Defence might restart releasing the information in the future.

    While in previous months the Resolute Support (RS) mission had disclosed data on "enemy-initiated attacks" as well as the strength of the Taliban and other rebel groups, in March RS gave only a short statement on the Taliban stepping up attacks.

    RS explained its decision to withhold data by telling SIGAR that the enemy attacks were now a "critical part" of discussions "regarding ongoing political negotiations between the US and the Taliban".

    Taliban Attacks Show No Sign of Ceasing in Afghanistan

    The remarks by RS came after at least four Afghan policemen were killed and five others injured as Taliban militants carried out an attack on a security checkpoint in the Nachin area of the country's central province of Oruzgan late last week.

    The attack was the latest in a series of such assaults that have been conducted by the Taliban since a peace agreement between the militant group and the US was signed in Doha, Qatar on 29 February.

    The accord, in particular, envisages the timetable of the US withdrawing some of its 13,000 troops, while the Taliban, in turn, is expected to sever ties with all extremist groups and prevent Afghanistan from becoming a haven for militants.

    The deal also stipulated that intra-Afghan negotiations were to begin on 10 March. Nonetheless, the power crisis between Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his political rival, Abdullah Abdullah, who refused to concede defeat in the presidential election, as well as Kabul's reluctance to exchange prisoners with the Taliban, has resulted in a standstill in the peace process.

    *Taliban, a terrorist group banned in Russia


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