Khalilzad asks Pakistan, Qatar to condemn Taliban spring offensive

Lester Mason
April 15, 2019

The Taliban announced on Friday the start of their spring offensive despite talking peace with the United States and ahead of a significant gathering of Afghans meant to discuss resolutions to the protracted war and an eventual withdrawal of American troops from the country.

Operation Fath - meaning "victory" in Arabic - will be conducted across Afghanistan with the aim of "eradicating occupation" and "cleansing our Muslim homeland from invasion and corruption", the Taliban said in a statement.

Through this announcement, Khalilzad said, Taliban leaders demonstrate their "indifference" to the demands of Afghans across the country.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the USA special envoy who is spearheading Washington's push for a peace settlement, called the Taliban announcement "reckless".

Mohammad Yusouf Ayubi, head of the provincial council in Kunduz, said at least six people were killed and more than 50 were wounded as the insurgents attacked from multiple directions just after midnight.

He said the call for more fighting will not advance peace efforts and that "if executed, it will only yield more suffering and thousands more causalities".

He said that the killing of Afghans must stop.

"The continuation of war is no one's interest", the palace said. After condemning the announcement, Mr Khalilzad "Pakistan, Qatar, and other nations that want peace in Afghanistan to do the same".

"We also want to clarify that we are committed to the ongoing negotiations process and a peaceful resolution but can not remain indifferent to the military operations and ongoing crimes of the invaders and their internal supporters", Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.

Friday's announcement instructs the Taliban mujahideen, or holy warriors, to "launch jihadi operations with sincerity and pure intentions", strictly abiding by the Taliban command structure.

It shows "the enemy still seeks to attain its malicious objectives through the use of force", the Taliban said.

Nangarhar Governor Shahmahmood Miakhel said Afghan forces repelled the attack after reinforcements arrived.

Later this month, Taliban officials are expected to meet with Afghanistan representatives, including some officials from the Kabul government, in the Qatari capital Doha.

The Taliban has long refused to speak officially with Kabul, dubbing the government a "puppet" of the West, and the group has insisted that government officials are attending only in a "personal capacity".

He predicted "intense" fighting for 2019, with the renewed bloodshed taking a toll on civilians.

The Taliban, which frequently exaggerates numbers, claimed to have killed or wounded "more than 200 soldiers, police and militias".

Fed up with the $45 billion annual price tag and what his military leaders termed a "stalemate", US President Donald Trump a year ago chose to slash the number of American soldiers in Afghanistan.

The Taliban effectively controls almost half of Afghanistan and has continued to launch frequent attacks on security forces despite holding several rounds of peace talks with the United States in recent months after almost 18 years of war.

In southern Afghanistan, Taliban forces launched attacks in the opium-rich province of Helmand, with operations in Nad Ali, Gereshk and Sangin districts, areas that have been fought over for the past 17 years.

"The Taliban's spring offensive announcement is reckless".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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