0109 GMT February 17, 2020
While negotiators from the warring sides pressed on with meetings in Doha, Qatar, the Taliban and the Afghan government both reported fighting on the ground, Reuters reported.
The Taliban continue to stage major attacks against Afghan forces and people while they were engaged in the dialogue with the United States to negotiate an end to the 18-year-long war that the US-led coalition launched in 2001 under the guise of the war on terror.
The Afghan Defense Ministry said an airstrike had killed a senior Taliban commander in northern Balkh Province on Thursday evening.
“As result of a targeted airstrike by Afghan air forces, Mawlavi Sardar Mohammad, a key member of the Taliban military commission was killed along with eight others,” the ministry said in a statement.
The Taliban did not confirm the airstrike.
A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said the group had killed six Afghan soldiers, including two officers, in an attack on a checkpoint in northern Kunduz Province.
Afghan, Taliban and US sources said a deal could be signed this month, allowing a withdrawal of some of 13,000 US troops and thousands of other NATO personnel that remain in Afghanistan since 2001.
US President Donald Trump said on Thursday there was a “good chance” of reaching an agreement with the Taliban on a reduction of US troops in Afghanistan.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said an important breakthrough had been made in peace talks with the Taliban in recent days, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper said they had negotiated a proposal for a weeklong reduction in violence.
Details about when that was set to begin were not immediately clear but a Taliban official said it would be this week.
Attacks in Afghanistan jumped to record levels in the last quarter of 2019 compared with previous years.