An agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban to reduce violence in Afghanistan will begin Friday at midnight local time, according to U.S., Afghan and Taliban officials.
If the seven-day truce is deemed successful, the two sides say they plan to sign a historic agreement on Feb. 29, where U.S. troops would begin a phased withdrawal and the Taliban would sit down with other Afghans for national peace talks and would commit to keeping Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for terrorists.
That safe haven provided to the al Qaeda operatives responsible for the Sept. 11th attacks is what brought U.S. forces to Afghanistan more than 18 years ago. But while the deal could mean an end to that war and the large U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, critics say the U.S. is agreeing to withdraw in exchange for Taliban promises the militant group has no interest or ability to keep.
The seven-day deal applies nationwide and includes security forces of the Afghan government, which is supported by the U.S., but rejected by the Taliban. It is “very specific,” according to a senior administration official, including prohibiting roadside bombs, suicide bombs and rocket attacks.