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The Taliban Says The Infamous 'Gitmo 5' Are Joining Afghan Peace Negotiations
The infamous "Gitmo Five" — the supposed Taliban all-stars exchanged for then-Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl — are going to be part of peace negotiations in the Afghan War, according to the Associated Press.
- The five senior Taliban members were long-term detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, before they were released to the government of Qatar on May 31, 2014, in a deal struck by the Obama administration.
- In exchange, Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured in 2009, was released by the Taliban and returned to the U.S. He was later court-martialed and received a dishonorable discharge, fine, and a reduction in rank from sergeant to private.
- Meanwhile, the Taliban five have moved up in the world, since the group's spokesman told AP they've all joined the Taliban political office in Doha.
- Taliban officials met with American diplomat Alice Wells in July, and had a follow-on meeting in October with the State Department's special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.
- Talks between the two sides are preliminary, although both have expressed the hope that some negotiated settlement of the Afghan war can be reached. The top American commander in Afghanistan said in July that he was open to the idea of directly speaking with the Taliban.
- Although some told AP they see the use of the five as a sign the Taliban desires peace, it does introduce some awkwardness into the equation: Besides being Guantanamo alumni, all were considered by the Pentagon to be "high risk" detainees.
Retired Army Master Sgt. Mark Allen has died 10 years after he was shot in the head while searching for deserter Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan.
Allen died on Saturday at the age of 46, according to funeral information posted online.
For U.S. service members who have fought alongside the Kurds, President Donald Trump's decision to approve repositioning U.S. forces in Syria ahead of Turkey's invasion is a naked betrayal of valued allies.
"I am ashamed for the first time in my career," one unnamed special operator told Fox News Jennifer Griffin.
In a Twitter thread that went viral, Griffin wrote the soldier told her the Kurds were continuing to support the United States by guarding tens of thousands of ISIS prisoners even though Turkey had nullified an arrangement under which U.S. and Turkish troops were conducting joint patrols in northeastern Syria to allow the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, to withdraw.
"The Kurds are sticking by us," the soldier told Griffin. "No other partner I have ever dealt with would stand by us."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Sunday he and the Pentagon will comply with House Democrats' impeachment inquiry subpoena, but it'll be on their own schedule.
"We will do everything we can to cooperate with the Congress," Esper said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "Just in the last week or two, my general counsel sent out a note — as we typically do in these situations — to ensure documents are retained."
Most of the U.S. troops in Syria are being moved out of the country as Turkish forces and their Arab allies push further into Kurdish territory than originally expected, Task & Purpose has learned.
Roughly 1,000 U.S. troops are withdrawing from Syria, leaving a residual force of between 100 and 150 service members at the Al Tanf garrison, a U.S. official said.
"I spoke with the president last night after discussions with the rest of the national security team and he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Sunday's edition of CBS News' "Face the Nation."'
More than 700 women and children affiliated with ISIS escape Kurdish prison camp after Turkish shelling
BEIRUT/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Women affiliated with Islamic State and their children fled en masse from a camp where they were being held in northern Syria on Sunday after shelling by Turkish forces in a five-day-old offensive, the region's Kurdish-led administration said.
Turkey's cross-border attack in northern Syria against Kurdish forces widened to target the town of Suluk which was hit by Ankara's Syrian rebel allies. There were conflicting accounts on the outcome of the fighting.
Turkey is facing threats of possible sanctions from the United States unless it calls off the incursion. Two of its NATO allies, Germany and France, have said they are halting weapons exports to Turkey. The Arab League has denounced the operation.