U.S. forces said they carried out a “defensive” airstrike against Taliban fighters in Afghanistan Wednesday to halt an attack by the fighters in a wave of violence that has thrown into question the high-stakes peace agreement signed by the militant group over…

U.S. forces said they carried out a “defensive” airstrike against Taliban fighters in Afghanistan Wednesday to halt an attack by the fighters in a wave of violence that has thrown into question the high-stakes peace agreement signed by the militant group over…

U.S. forces said they carried out a “defensive” airstrike against Taliban fighters in Afghanistan Wednesday to halt an attack by the fighters in a wave of violence that has thrown into question the high-stakes peace agreement signed by the militant group over the weekend.
The American strike, which officials said was against Taliban fighters attacking a U.S.-backed Afghan military checkpoint, came less than a day after President Trump spoke with a top Taliban leader and expressed confidence the peace deal would hold.
On Tuesday, Mr. Trump told reporters he had “a good conversation” with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who signed the peace agreement with U.S. officials Saturday. The president suggested the two had agreed that an 11-day-old reduction in violence pact tied to the deal was working.
“We’ve agreed there’s no violence,” Mr. Trump said. “We don’t want violence.”
However, the U.S.-backed Afghan government says the Taliban has carried out several attacks against Afghan forces over the past 24 hours.
The Afghan Interior Ministry said four civilians and 11 Afghan troops were killed Wednesday by Taliban attacks in various areas of the country.
Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said the U.S.-backed Afghan forces had responded and killed at least 17 Taliban during clashes. The Afghan Defense Ministry separately said seven Afghan soldiers were killed when Taliban fighters attacked a checkpoint in the nation’s northern Kunduz province.
It was not immediately clear Wednesday how the wave of violence will impact the delicate peace process in Afghanistan.
There was no immediate comment from the Trump administration.
A spokesman for U.S. Forces in Afghanistan (USFOR-A) said on Twitter Wednesday morning that the U.S. side remains “committed to peace,” but also dedicated to defending U.S-backed Afghan government forces.
“Taliban leadership promised the int’l community they would reduce violence and not increase attacks,” USFOR-A spokesman Col. Sonny Legget tweeted. “We call on the Taliban to stop needless attacks and uphold their commitments. As we have demonstrated, we will defend our partners when required.”
Col. Legget said U.S. forces had conducted an airstrike Wednesday against Taliban fighters, who “were actively attacking” an Afghan government checkpoint in the nation’s southern Helmand province — a Taliban stronghold.
“This was a defensive strike to disrupt the attack,” Col. Legget said, noting that it was the first U.S. strike since the reduction in violence pact went into effect 11 days ago.
The reduction pact had paved the way for Saturday’s inking of a wider peace deal between Washington and the Taliban, a deal that could see the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan and the gradual end of America’s longest war.
U.S. officials have said the deal will only go forward if the reduction of violence pact holds. The next stage of the peace process will also be contingent on direct talks between the Taliban and representatives of the U.S.-backed Afghan government. U.S. officials have said those talks could commence in Oslo, Norway, during the coming weeks.
Reuters reported Wednesday that the Taliban had made a decision this week to resume its regular attack operations against Afghan government forces, but would continue to hold back on attacks on U.S. and other foreign troops in Afghanistan.
During recent weeks, analysts have questioned whether ground-level Taliban commanders in various areas of Afghanistan would adhere to the peace agreement that was negotiated and inked between U.S. officials and Taliban leaders in Doha, Qatar.
• This article is based in part on wire service reports.
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