The Afghan Taliban, in a statement shared on Twitter, announced that the United States launched an airstike in the Helmand province of Afghanistan on December 4, leaving at least 18 dead. This development comes as US-Taliban peace talks proceed in Doha.
“In recurrent violation of the Doha agreement, American forces carried out airstrikes on a Mujahideen base and nearby civilian homes in Loy Bagh village of Nad Ali district, Helmand – an area quite far from any battleground and where no military activities were happening,” said the statement by Taliban spokesperson Qari Muhammad Yousuf Ahmadi.
“The Americans initially targeted a single site, and as locals gathered at the vicinity to retrieve the martyrs and wounded, drones carried out 7 more attacks resulting in a total of 18 civilians including some Mujahideen martyred and 3 others wounded,” the statement added.
Additionally, four homes, a vehicle, and four motorbikes were destroyed by the airstrike, as per the Taliban.
Peace talks between the United States and the Taliban have been underway in Doha, Qatar since September 2020. Earlier, a conditional peace treaty was signed between the US and the Taliban on February 29, which called for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan within 14 months if the Taliban uphold their terms of the treaty.
Since then, the US has closed up to 12 air bases in Afghanistan. According to The Post, the Trump administration plans to bring down US troops in Afghanistan from around 5000 to 2500 by January 15.
On Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that violence in Afghanistan is “unacceptably high” and that the warring parties in Afghanistan must “stand back and indeed stand down,” as quoted by Reuters.
Attempts at peace talks have also been underway between the Afghan government and the Taliban, but violent conflicts continue to mar the process.
The Afghan government has accused the Taliban of killing 134 civilians and wounding 342 more over the past one month. However, the Taliban have retorted by claiming that Afghan government forces have killed 68 civilians in the past week alone.
Despite ongoing ongoing conflict, ceasefire remains an objective in Afghanistan. Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem issued a statement on Friday, saying “ceasefire will be on the agenda among other topics in the negotiations.”
The latest alleged airstrike by the US in the midst and in violation of the Doha peace talks adds to the instability in the war-torn region.