The Taliban has not honoured its commitment to cut ties with al Qaeda and while attacks on U.S. coalition forces ceased, operations against Afghan security forces increased, said the Lead Inspector General (Lead IG) for Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
The Lead IG’s report, presented to Congress, summarizes the quarter from April 1 to June 30, 2020, and covers the key events and oversight of the U.S.’ counterterrorism operations and building the capacity of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF).
The report found that the Taliban did not conduct a single attack against U.S. or coalition forces over the three months in line with the Doha agreement. However, there was a marked uptick in violence against Afghan security forces and officials.
The reduction in violence led to a resulting 80% decrease in airstrikes conducted by U.S. and coalition forces, the Pentagon noted. But the increase frequency of attacks against the ANDSF has proven to be a “significant” barrier to the peace talks, the Lead IG said.
The Taliban also “did not appear to uphold its commitment to distance itself from terrorist organizations in Afghanistan” with United Nations (UN) and U.S. officials reporting that Taliban continued to support the Al Qaeda and conducted joint attacks with Al Qaeda members against the ANDSF.
While the U.S. reduced its troops in Afghanistan to 8,600 by mid-June, General Kenneth McKenzie, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) commander said that “conditions have not been fully met” for a complete withdrawal.
The report also stated that Afghan government officials had questioned whether the Taliban was serious about entering into peace negotiations as “levels of violence stayed above norm.”
According to the report, United States Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) is no longer providing data on “enemy-initiated attacks” against U.S. forces there – effectively hiding the levels of violence in Afghanistan.
The Department of Defence stated that the information would be included in “future classified annexes to its reports” since they did not want to disrupt the ongoing peace process.
The Pentagon’s opacity regarding accurate levels of violence in Afghanistan, comes at a delicate time since the U.S. remains committed as a facilitator in pursuing the release of prisoners and the talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
In addition, the report pointed out that U.S. funding for the Afghan Local Police (ALP) would end after September 30, which would leave the ALP members “vulnerable” to recruitment by militias and the Taliban.