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Taliban ties with al-Qaida remain close despite US deal: UN report

01 Jun 2020 1TV News

Relations between the Taliban, especially the Haqqani Network, and Al-Qaida remain close despite the former signing a peace deal with the United States, a recent UN report said.

Al-Qaida has 400 to 600 operatives active in 12 Afghan provinces and is running training camps in the east of the country, according to the report.

The report, based on interviews with UN member states, including their intelligence and security services, plus think tanks and regional officials, says the Taliban regularly consulted with Al-Qaida during negotiations with the United States and offered guarantees that it would "honour their historical ties. "

Al-Qaida has reacted positively to the agreement, with statements from its acolytes celebrating it as a victory for the Taliban’s cause and thus for global militancy, the report said.

The UN report’s authors are pessimistic the Taliban will live up to its end of the peace deal that includes counter-terrorism actions and intra-Afghan talks leading to a permanent ceasefire.

"Early indications are that many, if not all, of these objectives will prove challenging," according to the report to the UN Security Council, published by the UN Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team.

"While the Taliban remain internally disciplined enough to be a formidable fighting force, there are divisions within the group, which make compromise with its adversaries difficult, and its messaging remains hard-line," the report said.

This comes as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in March said that "the Taliban have now made the break” with al-Qaida.

A US State Department official cited by TIME cast doubt on the UN report’s validity, saying that given Afghanistan’s security environment “it is our understanding the U.N. experts rely heavily on sources of information that may not provide a complete picture.”

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen also rejected UN report’s conclusions denying that the Taliban conferred at high levels with al–Qaeda, assured it cooperation and safe haven, or allowed the group to run training camps in the east of the country.

“I totally refute this report; it is a baseless accusation aimed at spoiling the peace process. We are fully committed to the agreement and the obligations therein— not to allow anyone to use the soil of Afghanistan against any other country,” Shaheen said as quoted by TIME.

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