Afghanistan

Prisoners affiliated with the Taliban will soon be released from Afghan lockups, in a move that's likely to kick off peace talks between Afghanistan and the Islamist insurgent group. On Wednesday, a pair of Taliban spokesmen and a U.S. official confirmed the prisoner release — a key condition in the peace framework between the militants and the U.S. announced about a month ago.

More than two dozen people are dead after an attack Wednesday on a Sikh place of worship in Kabul. The assault on the temple in the Afghan capital left at least 25 people dead, another eight wounded and dozens more in need of rescue, according to the country's Ministry of Interior.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Monday a decision to slash $1 billion in U.S. aid to Afghanistan, saying that Washington is "disappointed" in the country's rival leaders, who have been unable to form a government following last year's disputed presidential elections.

The fragile peace deal taking shape in Afghanistan could spell the end of an era of for the U.S. military, one marked by efforts at nation-building and winning hearts and minds.

It appears that the Pentagon is also intent on ending a research program from that era — to fund social science for the military.

Two days after being sworn in for a second five-year term at a ceremony attended by senior U.S. officials, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has reversed his initial refusal to release Taliban prisoners prior to peace talks with the insurgents.

Political chaos reigned in Afghanistan Monday as dueling presidential swearing-in ceremonies took place in Kabul.

Incumbent Afghan President Ashraf Ghani took the oath of office for a second term while Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, citing fraud, proclaimed himself Afghanistan's president at a rival inauguration event.

With less than four days to go before peace talks are to begin in Afghanistan between that nation's authorities and the Taliban insurgency, things are not looking promising.

Taliban fighters are stepping up attacks on Afghan security forces. American warplanes are counterattacking. And a prisoner exchange that was to take place before those intra-Afghan talks start is being rejected by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

The International Criminal Court has cleared the way for its prosecutor to investigate possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, including those allegedly committed by U.S. forces and the CIA.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blasted the decision, calling it a "breathtaking action by an unaccountable political institution, masquerading as a legal body."

Afghanistan's president publicly rejected the timeline for a prisoner swap with the Taliban on Sunday, just one day after the United States signed a peace deal with the militant Islamist group that proposes a March 10 deadline for an exchange of prisoners.

The peace deal, more than a year in the making, aims to end the longest war in American history.

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