The year 2019 began with hopes for peace in war-torn Afghanistan, the first time since the 18-year conflict in the South Asian country started following an invasion by the United States.
In January, expectations of a peace agreement between the US and the Taliban were high after the two sides agreed in principle to its framework.
The deal stated that the Taliban will not allow foreign armed groups and fighters to use Afghanistan as a launchpad to conduct attacks outside the country, a complete withdrawal of US and NATO forces, an intra-Afghan dialogue, and a permanent ceasefire between the US and the Taliban.
Afghans believed that their country, which has suffered through decades of conflict in which tens of thousands have been killed, would finally see peace this year.
US-Taliban meetings in Qatar’s capital Doha continued for the next few months against the backdrop of continuing attacks by the armed group across Afghanistan and US-led air attacks.
In another significant move towards peace, Doha, in July, hosted a two-day intra-Afghan meeting between Taliban and Afghan officials. A call to reduce civilians casualties to “zero” was made at the meeting even as the death toll continued to rise.
“At first we had really high hopes for peace, but then we realised there are a lot of hurdles,” Abdul Wali Sadiq, 23, from Afghanistan’s Kunar province told Al Jazeera.
In September, just as the US-Taliban talks were believed to have reached the final stage, US President Donald Trump abruptly announced the deal was “dead”, citing an increase in violence in which a US soldier was killed.
The Taliban said the announcement came as a “shock”.