The United States launches an air strike on the Taliban in central Afghanistan

A spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan said that an air strike launched by Washington to support Afghan security forces killed five Taliban militants in central Afghanistan on Sunday evening.

Violence has escalated in recent weeks in clashes between militants and government forces across the country, at a time when negotiators from both sides are holding talks in Qatar to reach a peace agreement that would allow Washington to withdraw its remaining forces there and end the longest war the United States has fought.

Colonel Sonny Leggett added in a tweet on Monday that the air strike in Wardak province was carried out to defend Afghan government soldiers, targeting Taliban fighters, killing five of them.

He added that the strike did not contradict the withdrawal agreement signed by Washington and the movement in February.

“We reject the allegations of violating the agreement and killing innocent Afghans,” Leggett said, without giving details.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid declared his condemnation of the strike, saying that there was no ongoing fighting at the time of its launch, and that it violated the terms of the agreement.

The Taliban accused the United States this month of violating the agreement by launching air strikes in Helmand province, in southern Afghanistan, as militants began a major operation to wrest control of the provincial capital. 

Washington denies the accusation.