Afghan forces seize a truck carrying 10,000 kilograms of various explosive materials — including ammonium nitrate and sodium carbonate — after it crossed from Pakistan through the Torkham border, Tuesday, March 10, according to an intelligence official.

READ MORE: Nangarhar Governor Shah Mahmood Miakhil says the explosive-packed truck could have caused a "massive loss of life."

Officials in Afghanistan say a presidential decree is expected to be issued Tuesday that would set in motion the process of releasing thousands of Taliban prisoners as the U.S. military begins a troop drawdown in the country—steps outlined in a deal with the Islamist insurgent group aimed at ending the nearly 19-year-old war.

The U.S.-Taliban agreement sealed in Qatar 10 days ago requires all American and coalition forces to leave the country in the next 14 months, subject to insurgent counterterrorism assurances and commitments the Taliban would seek a political reconciliation with other Afghan stakeholders.

“U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) has begun its conditions-based reduction of forces to 8,600 over 135 days,” said U.S. military spokesman Col. Sonny Leggett. There are about 13,000 troops stationed in the country.

Leggett underscored the drawdown would ensure the U.S. military retains necessary means and capabilities to provide support to Afghan security forces and conducted counterterrorism operations. (VOA/AFP)

LINK: https://www.voanews.com/usa/us-begins-troop-drawdown-amid-deepening-afgh...

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Associated Press 11 May 2020 11:44 CEST

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