Pentagon officials said they would not give the Taliban a green light to conduct anti-terrorism strikes inside Afghanistan, telling Fox News that the militants must agree to a cease-fire and international withdrawal before allowing members of their group to return to the battlefield.
The Taliban has called for a cease-fire as part of a comprehensive peace process that includes the United States, but the militant group has been unable to seal a deal with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
In addition to seeking a cease-fire, the militants have demanded international troops leave Afghanistan. Officials from President Donald Trump’s administration have discussed the possibility of an agreement similar to the one reached with the Taliban in July, where the militant group agreed to end hostilities and transfer Afghan prisoners held in the United States.
A Pentagon spokesman, Army Col. Rob Manning, said the Defense Department has made it clear to the Taliban that it is not clear “how they would be able to accomplish their objectives in such a cease-fire without attacking American forces or doing harm to innocent Afghan citizens.”
He added, “To the Taliban, those messages have been consistently reinforced in the face of consistent calls to surrender and support peace in Afghanistan.”