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Mon May 11, 2020, 07:54 PM

Retired Afghan general joins the Taliban as concerns rise over defections

A retired Afghan general has defected to the Taliban in western Farah province, according to Afghan and Taliban officials, as concerns rise over members of the Afghan security forces switching sides at a critical moment in the war.

A spokesman for Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry called the news “regretful” in a statement Sunday, accusing retired Gen. Abdul Jalil Bakhtawar of choosing “violence over a life of dignity.”

A Taliban spokesman released a video Monday welcoming Bakhtawar. “The honorable general was in contact with our Mujahideen, and we are happy to have him in our ranks,” said a senior Taliban official in the video who was not identified by name. “He is an influential personality, and it is great that he is back at his home.”

A foreign diplomat in Kabul said the number of defections within the Afghan security forces have increased following the signing of the peace deal more than two months ago. Afghan officials in provinces hit hardest by the uptick in Taliban attacks also have relayed reports of increased defections.

A spokesman for the U.S. military command in Kabul said in a recent statement that the Taliban verbally agreed to bring violence levels down by 80% following the signing of the peace deal. But the text of the agreement requires the Taliban to cease attacks only on American and coalition targets.


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