Taliban propose ceasefire for exchange of 7,000 prisoners

Kaylee Greenlee, DCNF

The Taliban proposed a three-month ceasefire in Afghanistan in exchange for some 7,000 captured prisoners, an Afghan government official said, the BBC reported Thursday.

Afghan government negotiator Nader Nadery said the insurgent’s proposal is a “big demand,” according to the BBC. Some 5,000 Taliban fighters were released last year and suspected returned to fight with the insurgency, worsening conflict in Afghanistan.

The insurgents have fought with Afghan security forces since U.S. troops started withdrawing from the country, the BBC reported. The Taliban claim to control 85% of Afghan districts, though other estimates report the insurgents only hold power over around a third of the territory.

Nadery said the insurgents also asked for their names to be taken off the United Nations blacklist, according to the BBC. The government has not yet announced a decision on how officials will respond to the offer.

Afghan forces said they recovered the Wesh-Chaman border crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan Taliban fighters seized Wednesday, though the insurgents say they maintain control, the BBC reported. Video footage reportedly showed the Taliban’s signature white flag waving at the Spin Boldak crossing.

Taliban insurgents have seized dozens of districts and overrun Afghan forces and displacing thousands of civilians since U.S. troops began withdrawing from the area, according to the BBC. The insurgents were supposed to attend negotiations with the Afghan government, though the talks have been repeatedly postponed.

U.S. forces left the Bagram air base in Afghanistan after a 20-year stint without notifying the Afghan commander who would step in to oversee the base’s operations, the Associated Press reported July 6. The Pentagon said American forces will be completely withdrawn from the country by the end of August, ahead of President Biden’s goal for Sept. 11.

Around 5,000 prisoners, many of them Taliban insurgents, are in custody at the airfield, according to the AP. Afghan forces reportedly found out the last of the U.S. troops and officials had left the base two hours later, allowing for looters to ransack the barracks before Afghan officials were able to get to the area.

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