Kabul [Afghanistan], May 21 (ANI): The Taliban has maintained "close ties with al Qaeda" and is "very likely preparing for large-scale offensives" against population centres and Afghan government installations, an intelligence agency of the United States federal government has said.
This comes as the American withdrawal from Afghanistan is up to 20 per cent complete and the US has handed over control of five military facilities to Afghan counterparts, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said on Monday.
According to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report, al-Qaeda is likely awaiting further guidance from the Taliban as the United States reviews the US-Taliban agreement.
"Al-Qaeda continues to rely on the Taliban for protection, and the two groups have reinforced ties over the past decades, likely making it difficult for an organizational split to occur," the report said.
This latest quarterly DIA analysis is cited in a report prepared by the US Department of Defense's Lead Inspector General for Operation Freedom's Sentinel in Afghanistan.
This report was release on Tuesday, the same day, Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, testified before the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, FDD's Long Journal reported.
Without citing a single example, Khalilzad, during his testimony had said the Taliban has made "substantial progress" on its counterterrorism commitments.
According to the Long Journal, Khalilzad's claim is opposite of DIA's assessment, and other official reporting since Washington entered into its historic agreement with the Taliban in February last year.
Taliban terrorists have intensified activities since the formal start of the US-led forces pull out from Afghanistan, which will be completed by September 11.
On Thursday, an explosive device made by Taliban terrorists detonated in the Helmand province, leaving nine civilians killed and two minors injured.
"A Taliban-improvised explosive device (IED) exploded on a civilian vehicle in the Basharan area of Lashkar Gah, Helmand province, this morning. As a result, 9 people including women and children were martyred and 2 other children were injured," the Afghan Ministry of Defense said in a statement.
Violent clashes continue in Afghanistan despite the ongoing peace talks between the elected Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar. (ANI)