Gen. Yasin Zia, Chief of Army Staff, who is in south of the country following an increase in Taliban attacks, said on Thursday that more al-Qaeda members have been killed in operations by Afghan National Defense and Security Forces in a Taliban-influenced area in Farah province in the last few days.
“The Taliban still have close coordination and conduct operations with other terrorist organizations including al-Qaeda," Zia said. "Recently you saw that the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces killed a top al-Qaeda leader in Ghazni. Recently, we also launched an operation in a Taliban-influenced area between Nimroz and Farah provinces and killed several al-Qaeda members.”
This comes a day after Taliban spokesman in Doha rejected al-Qaeda presence in Afghanistan weeks after the Afghan security forces during an operation killed a senior leader of the network Abu Mohsin al-Misri in a Taliban-influenced area in Andar district of central Ghazni province.
"Right now, there is no al-Qaeda presence in Afghanistan,” Naeem said in an interview with TOLOnews.
On February 29, the Taliban sealed a peace agreement with the US in Doha based on which, the group committed not to allow any terror group including al-Qaeda to operate on Afghan soil or stage attacks against other countries including the US.
Experts said that in the US-Taliban peace agreement, it has not been explained that what an approach the US will adopt towards the Taliban if the Taliban continue its relations with al-Qaeda.
“There are serious shortcomings in their agreement including sufficient guarantees. We don't know whether the Taliban will be committed to their assurances to cut their ties with al-Qaeda and other groups. Also the message that is conveyed by Americans regarding this issue is vague,” said Omar Sadr, a university lecturer.
“The presence of al-Qaeda and other groups in Afghanistan certainly poses a threat to Afghanistan’s future. Al-Qaeda and groups like them would not be involved in a peace process, which means if there is a peace deal, these groups would still be there, they would still be in a position to fight, they would still be in a position to provide arms and other support,” Afghanistan affairs analyst Michael Goleman said.
The Afghan government has also confirmed that foreign fighters are still fighting against the Afghan forces alongside the Taliban.
“The Taliban along other terrorist groups including al-Qaeda are continuing their operations. The Afghan security forces killed an al-Qaeda mastermind in Ghazni. Few days back, several al-Qaeda affiliates were eliminated in a Taliban-influenced area between Nimroz and Farah,” presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said
According to the Afghan government, foreign fighters are fighting Afghan forces in Helmand, Badakhshan and Ghazni provinces.