April 8 (UPI) -- The U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan said Wednesday it will release 100 Taliban prisoners in an effort to advance peace talks with the militant group.
The announcement is a move to get talks back on track after the Taliban broke them off this week and recalled its negotiators.
"One hundred Taliban prisoners will be released today," Javid Faisal, spokesman for Afghanistan's Office of the National Security Council, said Wednesday. "We are doing our part in the agreement. The peace process should move forward."
The talks were a key part of the peace deal brokered last month between the militant group and U.S. officials, which called for U.S. forces to leave Afghanistan after a constant presence that has lasted for nearly two decades. It calls for the release of as many as 5,000 Taliban prisoners.
Talks were disrupted this week when the government balked at releasing 15 "top" Taliban commanders who'd been captured. Government officials said they'd been responsible for some of the group's most serious violence. The Taliban, in turn, called the talks "fruitless" and withdrew negotiators.
Faisal said although the 15 commanders aren't part of the 100 to be released, negotiations will continue as long as the Taliban cooperates.
ONSC Director-General Ahmad Zia Saraj said some Taliban prisoners have been involved in large-scale attacks against civilians recently, and have been linked to international terrorist groups.
A security official in Samangan province said about 15 Taliban militants were killed in fighting Tuesday in the Dara-e-Sof-e-Bala district.