Taliban cut short winter break, recall fighters to the battlefield: NBC reports

Taliban fighters have reportedly been called out of their traditional winter break from fighting to front-line duty, three militant leaders told NBC News, amid growing concerns within the group that the new Biden administration will stop the withdrawal of foreign troops.

According to NBC News, senior Taliban commanders and shadow governors “have been directed to return to their positions and attend special sessions and discussions to chalk out a future strategy.”

A Taliban commander in Helmand province told NBC News there were “multiple issues” that the movement’s leadership needed to address, including a “deadlock” in the peace talks with the Afghan government and doubts about the future due to the new administration in Washington.

The comments come amid escalating violence in the country; stalled peace talks in Doha and uncertainty around new US President Joe Biden’s plans for Afghanistan.

A bipartisan report released Wednesday warned that withdrawing troops irresponsibly would likely lead to a “new civil war” in Afghanistan and would allow terrorist groups to re-emerge empowered.

Meanwhile NBC News reported that a Taliban political leader in Doha, Qatar, said the group’s plan was to try and capture strategically important provinces in case talks with the Afghan government failed, and Biden kept troops in the country beyond May — the deadline as agreed to between the Taliban and the Trump administration.

The Taliban member in Doha told NBC News commanders of “important” districts had been recalled to their positions.

The Biden team has meanwhile said it’s reviewing the situation in Afghanistan and has indicated that it would be prepared to delay troop withdrawal if necessary.