The United States has withdrawn its troops from five bases in Afghanistan, reducing the number of its troops under a peace deal with the Taliban.
Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement that the number of US troops in Afghanistan is over 8,000 and that the bases previously held by US forces have now been transferred to our partners.
Hoffman said that the U.S. military depends on capabilities, not numbers, and we will maintain the capabilities we need to protect ourselves, our allies and partners, and American interests.
The statement did not mention the Taliban’s permanent links to al-Qaeda, although it was specifically mentioned in a Defense Department report earlier this month.
On the other hand, US Special Representative for the Peace Process Zalmay Khalilzad tweeted on the social networking site Twitter that on the 135th day of the agreement, the two sides had reached a “key milestone”.
He said the United States has worked hard to fulfil the first phase of its commitments under the agreement.
Zalmay Khalilzad warned that Washington’s approach would be subject to certain conditions when the agreement enters its “next phase”.
“As we look to the next phase of implementation under the Agreement, our approach will remain conditions-based. We will press for completion of prisoner releases, reduction of violence, complete delivery on CT commitments & start of & progress in intra-Afghan negotiations,” he said.
It is believed that the peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban have been hampered by the exchange of prisoners agreed upon, which is nearing completion.
The Kabul government promised to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners in exchange for the release of about 1,000 abducted Afghan security personnel.
It should be noted that on February 29 this year, the United States and the Taliban reached a historic agreement regarding the longest war in American history spanning nearly two decades and the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
A number of other promises were made under the peace agreement, aimed at establishing lasting peace with a full ceasefire.