KABUL – The Taliban announced Sunday it will be releasing 20 Afghan government prisoners the group has been holding, in the first phase of its commitment under its historic peace deal with the United States.
The deal calls for the government to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners in exchange for 1,000 government officials held by the Taliban insurgents.
The Afghan government released its first 100 Taliban prisoners last week and Jawed Faisal, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s national security adviser, said the government has thus far released 300 Taliban prisoners overall from government custody.
Suhial Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political office, said in a tweet that the first government prisoners will be handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross in the southern Kandahar province.
The exchanges come after the Taliban met with the head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan to call for an end to what they say is an increase in American attacks since a peace deal was signed in February, allegations the U.S. military denied.
On Saturday, a U.S. military spokesman called on the Taliban to stop attacking Afghan security forces whom he said American troops would continue to come to their aid in accordance with the agreement. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
The peace deal is aimed at paving the way for the U.S. to extricate itself from the 19-year war, America’s longest.
The spokesman confirmed that Gen. Scott Miller met with the Taliban “as part of the military channel established in the agreement” to discuss ways to reduce the violence.