The U.S. military in Afghanistan has begun the withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan after signing a peace deal with the Taliban group.

Col. Sonny Leggett, a spokesman for the U.S. military in Afghanistan said “In accordance with the U.S.-Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Joint Declaration and the U.S.-Taliban Agreement, U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) has begun its conditions-based reduction of forces to 8,600 over 135 days.”

Col. Leggett further added “USFOR-A maintains all the military means and authorities to accomplish our objectives—including conducting counterterrorism operations against al-Qaeda and ISIS-K and providing support to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.”

He also added “USFOR-A is on track to meet directed force levels while retaining the necessary capabilities.”

The U.S. and Taliban group signed a peace deal late last month after observing a 7-day reduction in violence. The two sides signed the agreement after almost 18 months of negotiations in Qatari capital of Doha.

The deal is expected to pave the way for the launch of intra-Afghan talks following the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners which was initially rejected by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani.

However, latest reports indicate that President Ghani has agreed to issue a decree for the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners and the formation of a national team for intra-Afghan talks.

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