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KABUL (Reuters) - U.S. and Taliban officials decided on Saturday to put their ongoing peace talks on hold for two days to allow for a meeting between rival Afghan groups to be held in Qatar, a Taliban official said.
The warring sides started a seventh round of peace talks last week, aiming to hammer out a schedule for the withdrawal of foreign troops in exchange for Taliban guarantees that international militant groups will not use Afghanistan as a base for launching attacks.
Agreement on the timetable has been elusive so far, but in a sign of progress the Taliban agreed on the sidelines of the peace talks to hold separate discussions with a group of Afghan delegates.
On Nov. 12, 2001, the Taliban fled Kabul amid a lightning advance by Northern Alliance forces and their U.S. Special Forces allies. The victory was a critical first step toward ensuring that Afghanistan would never again provide safe haven to terrorist groups plotting to kill Americans. And yet, 17 years and one MOAB later, 35 percent of the Afghan population lives beyond government control or influence — “a figure that has not changed in the past year,” according to the latest quarterly report from the Lead Inspector General for Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, which covers the period from July 1, 2018 to September 30, 2018.
Less than a month after the September 11 terror attacks, combat controllers with the Air Force Special Tactics Squadron and Army 5th Special Forces Group’s Operational Detachment Alpha 595 were among the first U.S. troops to invade Afghanistan. Deployed from Karshi-Khanabad Air Base in neighboring Uzbekistan on October 10, the mission — codenamed Task Force Dagger — was simple: Link up with Northern Alliance fighters led by Soviet-trained former Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum ahead of the multinational push to oust the Taliban.
People sometimes assume that the best war stories are fact based. Logic tells us that truth is more authentic than fiction. But Adrian Bonenberger and Brian Castner challenge that assumption in a new anthology of short story fiction, “The Road Ahead: Stories of the Forever War.”
Since 2001, the War in Afghanistan has been a sort of tug-of-war with concertina wire, with both sides coming out bloody, battered, and sinking deeper and deeper into a quagmire with no end in sight. From its start in 2001, to the low troop levels in the mid 2000s as the Iraq War picked up, to the massive troop surge in 2009, followed by the official end of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2014, the war has ground on and on.