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400 'hard-core' Taliban prisoners to be released ahead of Afghan peace talks

400 'hard-core' Taliban prisoners to be released ahead of Afghan peace talks
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Afghanistan will release 400 “hard-core” Taliban detainees to kick off peace negotiations between the government and the militant group, Reuters reported.

Members of Afghanistan’s Loya Jirga assembly on Sunday approved the release, which the Taliban demanded before joining talks.

“In order to remove an obstacle, allow the start of the peace process and an end of bloodshed, the Loya Jirga approves the release of 400 Taliban,” the assembly said in a resolution, according to Reuters.

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“Today, I will sign the release order of these 400 prisoners,” President Ashraf Ghani said shortly after the resolution passed.

Ghani met with more than 3,000 regional Afghan leaders in Kabul last week to discuss the potential releases, tightening both security and precautions against the coronavirus pandemic, the news service noted

Talks are set to start in Doha this week after the militant group spent years refusing to sit down with Afghan government representatives. Ghani has asked Taliban representatives to agree to a complete ceasefire ahead of the negotiations.

The new releases will bring the total number of Taliban released by the Afghan government to 5,000.

Trump administration and Taliban representatives previously agreed on the prisoner releases in a February agreement allowing for the U.S. troop withdrawals.

Human Rights Watch, meanwhile, has warned that a number of prisoners may have been detained due to “overly broad terrorism laws that provide for indefinite preventive detention,” according to Reuters.

The country saw more than 10,000 civilian deaths or injuries last year, for a total of 100,000 casualties throughout the decade. Among the prisoners set to be released are some suspected in some of the deadliest attacks during that period.

Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Trump loyalist to lead Pentagon transition | Democrats ask VA for vaccine distribution plan | Biden to get classified intel reports Ex-Nunes aide linked to Biden conspiracy theories will lead Pentagon transition Brennan takes final shot at Trump: 'I leave his fate to our judicial system, his infamy to history, & his legacy to a trash heap' MORE, meanwhile, said in an interview broadcast late Saturday that the Trump administration is set to draw down the number of U.S. troops in the country to under 5,000 by the end of November.