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Afghanistan and the US: A historic deal

Washington and the insurgents are expected to sign a deal in Doha on Saturday that would see thousands of US troops leave Afghanistan after more than 18 years, in return for various security commitments from the Taliban.

News of the truce has sparked joy across Afghanistan, with civilians pouring onto the streets to dance and celebrate the possible end of a conflict that has cost tens of thousands of lives.

But isolated attacks have continued, underscoring the difficulty of securing a permanent respite from bloodshed.

And details of what exactly the truce means are vague.

While the US has said the agreement provides a “significant and nationwide reduction in violence”, Afghan forces have vowed to remain “on active defense status” during the week.

Under the terms of the deal, Washington is initially expected to reduce troop levels to around 8,600, down from the current level of 12,000-13,000.

The remaining forces would stay behind on a “conditions-based” timeline to monitor the overall security situation and fight jihadists such as the Islamic State group.

Under their side of the deal, the Taliban have pledged to prevent Afghanistan from being used as a jihadi safe haven where groups can plan attacks on foreign soil.