Women’s rights, press freedom discussed in first talks between Taliban and exiled uprising leaders.

Even as they appeal to the West to release humanitarian aid funds, Taliban officials are imposing more restrictions on women's rights and democratic institutions.

The chaos that accompanied the Taliban’s sweep to power in Afghanistan left hundreds of families without answers about what happened to their sons, fathers and brothers.

The recruits are answering the calls of influential clerics and Taliban commanders, according to interviews with half a dozen current and former Taliban members.

The killings come despite a pledge to grant amnesty to former Afghan security forces and officials, demonstrating that international pressure for the group to respect human rights has done little to sway the Taliban.

The escalating, brutal fight in Nangahar province risks overstretching limited Taliban resources and further alienating many Afghans.

A Taliban official confirmed that two suicide bomb attacks targeted the hospital, but did not comment on reports of gunmen entering the building.

Colin Kahl, undersecretary of defense for policy, told senators that the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan could build the capacity to conduct international operations within six months if left unchecked. Al-Qaeda, he said, could have that capability in one to two years.

The United States and other countries are concerned that Afghanistan could again become a haven for militants seeking to carry out international attacks if the Taliban can't contain them.

The campaign, which will begin next month, will be the first to reach all children in Afghanistan in more than three years, UNICEF said.

The attack comes a week after an Islamic State suicide bomber attacked a crowded mosque during Friday prayers in the northern city of Kunduz.

The suspension comes after weeks of Taliban promises to allow freedom of movement to all Afghans and restore regular international flights in and out of Kabul.

This month, 93 members of Afghanistan National Institute of Music, including half of the renowned Zohra Orchestra, left the country. But about 180 remain trapped in Kabul.

The suicide bombing was the latest in a string of attacks on religious facilities in Afghanistan and the deadliest since U.S. troops left the country in August.

The Taliban said there were no restrictions on who could apply for a passport, though many educated Afghans fled following the Islamist militant takeover, fearing the regime's severe interpretation of sharia law.

Despite “various reports of law enforcement challenges” among the Afghans being housed at U.S. military facilities, there has only been a “small number of incidents,” a top military official said.

The influential U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Thursday reviewed the case of Abdulsalam al-Hela, who has been held at the military detention facility without charge or trial since 2004.

Tuesday’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing marked the first time senior Defense Department officials have faced lawmakers publicly since last month’s hasty evacuation from Kabul.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley and U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Kenneth McKenzie face the Senate and House Armed Services committees this week.

While nearly every aspect of the airlift has been politicized in the United States, the rescue of nearly 124,000 people in such a narrow time frame will go down as a historic accomplishment — albeit one overshadowed by tragedy

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