In this May 27, 2016 file photo, Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan. (AP Photos/Allauddin Khan, File)
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After operating out of Pakistan for more than a decade, the leaders of Afghanistan's Taliban movement may have moved back to their homeland to try to build on this year's gains in the war and to establish a permanent presence.The Taliban's leaders have been based in Pakistani cities, including Quetta, Karachi and Peshawar, since their rule in Afghanistan was overthrown in the 2001 U.S. invasion after the 9/11 attacks.Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the leadership shura, or council, relocated to Afghanistan "some months ago," although he would not say to where.Other Taliban sources said the justice, recruitment and religious councils had also moved to southern Afghanistan.Mujahid, however, said Kabul officials were aware of the moves, prompted by battlefield gains that the insurgents believed would put them in a strong position once talks with the Afghan government aimed at ending the war were restarted.After a year-long diplomatic offensive, Ghani in late 2015 cut ties with Islamabad and has since openly accused Pakistan of waging war on Afghanistan, using the Taliban as its proxy.High-ranking Taliban officials say Haibatullah is not engaged in day-to-day decision-making.
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