On June 5, 2020, US Forces - Afghanistan (USFOR-A) announced they had conducted two airstrikes on Taliban targets in order to disrupt coordinated attacks on an Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) checkpoint. The incident is the first of its kind since a cease-fire agreement was reached between the Taliban and the Afghan government at the start of Eid al-Fitr.
The airstrikes, carried out by the United States Air Force (USAF), targeted Taliban units in two different provinces: Farah and Kandahar. A casualty report has yet to be released by the Taliban, although an analysis conducted by the team Intelligence Ledger of open source intelligence (OSINT) from the ground around the time of the incident indicate that at least 20 were killed or injured.
Tensions were further inflamed in the war-torn country after 10 members of the Afghan National Army were killed in an ambush in the Zabul province the same day, with evidence indicating Taliban complicity in the attack.
The United States has made clear that it hopes to withdraw at least 8,600 troops from Afghanistan by May 2021. However, that timeline was predicated on the Afghan peace process moving along smoothly and at a set pace. Instead, the negotiations have ben fraught with difficulties and delays. Since the United States and Taliban signed a deal in Doha on February 29, there has been little progress made in talks between the two rival Afghan factions. On May 24, 2020, hopes for peace between the Taliban and the Afghan government were rekindled following the announcement of a three-day ceasefire between the two sides. On the same day, the government announced it was initiating the release of 2,000 Taliban prisoners as a good will gesture.
It remains to be seen if the events of June 5 will have an impact on the peace process, or if negotiators will look past the Taliban's infractions of the agreement.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States Army, Department of Defense, or the United States Government.