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US military warns Taliban ‘there will be responses’ if violence continues

U.S. Marine Sgt. Bryan Early, a squad leader with 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, leads his squad of Marines to the next compound while patrolling in Helmand province, Afghanistan, Dec. 19. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Austin Long)
May 04, 2020

The U.S. military called on the Taliban to abide by the U.S.-Taliban peace agreement, amid a surge in violent Taliban attacks in the country, or else face “responses.”

U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel spokesman Col. Sonny Leggett addressed a tweet to two Taliban spokesmen, calling on the Taliban to reduce violence in the country. Leggett’s tweet also included a two-page letter reiterating a prior call by Gen. Scott Miller for the Taliban to reduce the violence.

@Zabehulah_M33 You asked for clarity on Gen Miller’s calls for the Taliban to reduce violence. Let’s clarify: The people of #Afghanistan want #peace,” Leggett tweeted. “The world has asked the #Taliban to cease violence and focus on #COVID19. Now is the time to stop the violence @suhailshaheen1

Leggett began his tweet in reference to Zabihullah Mujahid and Suhail Shaheen, who are both spokesmen for the Taliban’s self-styled government, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

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Leggett provided the tweet in both English as well as in the Persian and Pashto languages, commonly spoken in Afghanistan

“You asked a question– was General Miller’s message a warning for war or for peace,” Leggett’s letter said.

Miller met with Taliban officials on April 28 and warned against continued Taliban violence, TOLO News reported.

“If the violence cannot be reduced then yes, there will be responses,” Leggett’s letter continued. “All sides must also return to the political path. Afghans should sit down now and begin talking about the future of Afghanistan together.”

The letter also noted the commitment of U.S. and coalition forces to side with the Afghan government forces, in opposition to Taliban attacks.

“In Doha, we agreed US and Coalition forces would continue to partner, support,– and when necessary defend – our Afghan brothers and sisters. We take our responsibilities very seriously. I assure you General Miller understands the unique and historic opportunity we have worked hard to create for Afghanistan. To date, the U.S. has not conducted a single offensive strike or operation since before the start of the reduction in violence period.”

Leggett concluded the letter saying “So what was General Miller’s statement about? It was not a threat for war– it is the hope for peace. He urges you to recognize that if all military sides do not act now to reduce violence, the cycle of violence will continue to escalate and prevent the start of the political process.”

Mujahid responded to Leggett’s letter on Twitter, The Hill reported, in which he accused the U.S. of “provocative statements,” and said “we are committed to our end, honour your own obligations.”

On Monday, a Taliban truck bomb killed at least five people at an Afghan military center.

The U.S. has repeatedly urged the Taliban to adhere to the terms of the peace deal and particularly urged its members to avoid violence during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.