Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani on Monday issued a decree to release the final batch of prisoners demanded by the insurgent Taliban as a condition to move to peace talks, sources told Reuters. “It is signed,” a presidential palace source said on Monday evening, a day after a grand assembly recommended Ghani release 400 ‘hardcore’ prisoners so that peace talks could begin in Doha. The Taliban have said that once the prisoners are released they would start peace talks within a week after months of delays since the United States signed a troop withdrawal deal in February. A day earlier, an Afghan grand assembly of elders had approved the release of 400 Taliban prisoners accused of “major” crimes. The Loya Jirga had said the decision was made to remove a barrier to peace talks between militants and the government. The Taliban had been demanding the release of the prisoners, whose crimes include attacks on Afghans and foreigners. It comes as the US announced its troop level in the country would drop below 5,000 by November. The Taliban were removed from power by a US-led invasion in 2001. The group gradually regained its strength to control more territory than at any point since that time. Earlier this year, the US and the Taliban agreed on a peace deal to end the 19-year-long conflict in Afghanistan. The deal was meant to pave the way for talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, which had previously only agreed to talk to the US. Negotiators for the US and the Taliban had agreed that 5,000 Taliban prisoners would be released before they entered talks with the Afghan government. Thousands were freed – however, 400 remain in prison. About 150 of them are on death row, according to AFP.