Afghan Forces Kill Taliban Commander as Fighting, Peace Talks Continue
The Afghan Defense Ministry said its forces killed a senior Taliban commander in an airstrike in the northern Balkh province on Thursday evening. “As a result of a targeted airstrike by Afghan air forces, Mawlavi Sardar Mohammad, a key member of the Taliban military commission, was killed along with eight others,” the ministry said in a statement. Afghan government forces have been battling the Taliban over the past day despite ongoing peace talks in Doha, Qatar aimed at ending the 18-year conflict. A Taliban spokesman said the group had killed six Afghan soldiers, including two officers, in an attack on a checkpoint in Kunduz province. Sources say a peace deal may be signed this month, which would see the withdrawal of 13,000 US troops and thousands of other NATO personnel. US President Donald Trump said on Thursday there was a “good chance” of reaching an agreement with the Taliban, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that in recent days, there had been an important breakthrough in the talks. US Defence Secretary Mark Esper said a proposal for a weeklong reduction in violence was negotiated.