Taliban announce annual spring offensive in Afghanistan
Taliban announce annual spring offensive in Afghanistan
Taliban announce launch of spring offensive amid peace talks
13 April, 2019, 14:59
Hours after Taliban announced their so-called spring offensive, a spokesman of the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, Dave Butler, said the coalition forces will continue to support the Afghan forces in the fight against the Taliban as the group has chosen violence despite a "tremendous" opportunity for peace.
The insurgent group announced Operation Fath, which means "victory" in Arabic, with the aim of "eradicating occupation" and "cleansing our Muslim homeland from invasion and corruption".
The insurgents carry out daily attacks targeting Afghan security forces and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops, and inflicting staggering casualties, including among civilians. The Afghan government launched its own offensive, dubbed "Khalid", in March.
Friday's clashes took place days before the expected resumption of talks between USA peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban officials in Doha. Preparations are also underway for a new round of talks between Afghan political leaders and the Taliban in the Qatari capital, Doha.
Worldwide travel restrictions were lifted on members of the Taliban's negotiating team, including its leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.
The group said it will keep fighting despite gains it has made across the country because global forces continue to have military and political influence, including launching bombing attacks and ground raids.
She added that the organization was concerned about the well-being of the Afghan people.
As well as assurances that civilians would be protected, it called on Afghan government soldiers and police, who have been suffering thousands of casualties a month, to abandon their posts and join the insurgency.
"On this basis we again call on troops working in enemy ranks to shun senseless hostility and futile resistance, to join the Mujahideen and gain guarantees of safeguarding life and wealth".
The Islamist insurgent group alleged in a statement that it has found World Health Organization staff involved in "some suspicious activities" during vaccination campaigns, and that the ICRC failed to practically implement pledges given to the Taliban.
Fed up with the $45 billion annual price tag and what his military leaders termed a "stalemate", US President Donald Trump previous year chose to slash the number of American soldiers in Afghanistan.
A total of 3,804 civilians were killed a year ago, the highest number recorded, according to United Nations figures.
Afghan security forces have suffered the brunt of losses, with more than 45,000 killed since 2014, but three USA service members were killed this week by a roadside bomb near Bagram air base, north of Kabul.
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