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US forces pull out of five military bases in Afghanistan

DPA
Kabul
American troops have withdrawn from five military bases in Afghanistan based on provisions of an agreement Washington signed with the Taliban late in February, both sides confirmed on Tuesday.
The two sides did not disclose the exact location of the vacated bases but information provided by Afghan and US officials indicates that soldiers left bases in Helmand, Uruzgan, Paktika, and Laghman provinces.
The US-Taliban agreement says that the US forces will leave five bases and reduce the level of its forces to 8,600 within 135 days - that deadline ended on Monday.
The Taliban welcomed the steps but blamed the US military for carrying out air strikes in areas “outside active combat zones.” The US peace envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, on Tuesday confirmed that Washington has carried out the first phase of its commitments under the agreement.
But Khalilzad criticized the high level of violence in the country and condemned a Taliban attack on a provincial capital on Monday that killed 12 members of the Afghan spy agency and wounded 63 others, adding that it contradicted the Taliban’s commitment to reduce violence.
The US official said that in the next phase of the implementation, he will push for the completion of an ongoing prisoner release by the Afghan government and the militants, reduction of violence, complete delivery on the Taliban’s counter-terrorism commitments and the start of peace talks among Afghans that could ultimately end decades of war in the country.

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