A group of 130 Taliban members laid down their weapons and joined the peace process in the western province of Herat on Thursday morning, local officials said.
The group was active in the Zer-e-Koh district of Herat province, according to officials.
Mardan Noorzai, the leader of the group, said that “with the withdrawal of foreign forces from the country, the time of jihad is over, and we will no longer continue to fight the country's military.”
Abdul Saboor Qane, provincial governor, said that with the joining of these men in the peace process, "security will improve in Zer-e-Koh and Shindand districts of the province.”
“These men will be sent back to Zer-e-Koh in support of the security force members in fighting against the Taliban,” he said.
The Taliban has not yet commented.
This comes as clashes are ongoing in some parts of the country, especially in the north of Afghanistan.
Sources confirmed on Thursday that six district centers have fallen into Taliban control since last night: two districts (Qaramqul and Grezwan) in Faryab, Charcheno district in Uruzgan, Tala wa Barfak in Baghlan, Arza in Logar and Qarabagh district in Ghazni province.
On April 14, US President Joe Biden announced that US troops will leave Afghanistan by September 11. Following the announcement, the Taliban attacks have escalated in the country.
The UN envoy in Afghanistan Deborah Lyons in a briefing to the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday night said the recent “intensive military campaign” by the Taliban will lead to continued violence in the country, and she reiterated that any attempt to install a government in Kabul by force will go against everyone’s interest.
Lyons said the Taliban’s intensive military campaign “will lead to increased and prolonged violence that would extend the suffering of the Afghan people and threaten to destroy much of what has been built and hard-won in the last two decades.”
She said that the Taliban’s recent advances are even more significant and are the result of an intensified military campaign. More than 50 of Afghanistan’s 370 districts have fallen since the beginning of May, she said.
Most districts that have been taken are adjacent to provincial capitals, suggesting that the Taliban are positioning themselves to try and take these capitals once foreign forces are fully withdrawn, she noted.
“This military campaign runs directly counter to recent statements by the head of the Taliban Political Commission that, and I quote, ‘We are committed to forging ahead with the other sides in an atmosphere of mutual respect (to) reach an agreement,’” she said.
For the Taliban to continue this intensive military campaign would be a tragic course of action, Lyons said.