- Airstrikes on Taliban positions show Washington will increase pressure on Kabul and Taliban to begin negotiations
- Pressure from Washington and Islamabad means Kabul will likely release further prisoners, but talks remain unlikely to begin this month
- Taliban will increase targeting of government forces if Kabul refuses to release further prisoners, but will maintain low tempo of attacks on major cities in coming weeks
A Taliban ambush on a military checkpoint in Paktia province killed 14 Afghan soldiers on 29 May, ending a three-day Taliban ceasefire over Eid al-Fitr. Clashes between government forces and Taliban fighters have since resumed, with US military officials confirming on 5 June that they had conducted two airstrikes on Taliban positions in Farah and Kandahar provinces that day to prevent major attacks planned against Afghan military checkpoints. Separately, US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad held talks with Pakistan’s military chief in Islamabad on 7 June to discuss progress in peace efforts with the Taliban. A day later, Khalilzad attended a meeting in Doha with Taliban negotiators to discuss the next steps towards holding intra-Afghan talks.
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