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Freed Taliban prisoners returning to battlefield: Top Afghan official

DPA
Kabul
A number of Taliban prisoners recently released by the Afghan government ahead of peace talks with the militia have returned to the battlefield, a high-ranking Afghan official said on Tuesday.
Abdullah Abdullah, the chairperson of Afghanistan’s reconciliation council, a body that oversees the peace talks with the Taliban, made the remarks during a virtual meeting with the US Council on Foreign Relations.
“I do know that some have returned to the battlefield, which is a violation of the agreement that they had made,” Abdullah said, referring to the Taliban’s February 29 deal with the United States.
Based on the deal, Kabul freed more than 5,000 Taliban prisoners - including some of the most dangerous militants, who were responsible for major bombings. In exchange, the Taliban freed 1,000 pro-government prisoners.
The swap paved the way for the start of inter-Afghan peace talks. The two sides started meeting on September 12, where they are, for the first time, discussing the rules and mechanisms of negotiations.
In addition, the deal will lead to the gradual withdrawal of all international forces from Afghanistan within 14 months.
But Abdullah says the level of violence remains high in the country.
“Unfortunately, so far, the level of violence is very high and to a level that is not acceptable for the people,” Abdullah said. “I repeat my call to the Taliban themselves and also to all partners who have any leverage over the Taliban to press on that point.” An ultimate agreement among Afghans would bring peace to the war-torn country after 40 years.

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