Taliban slams US airstrikes as breach of Doha deal

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Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid says airstrikes carried out by the US would lead to consequences, reports Asian Lite News

The Taliban slammed the US airstrikes in the Afghan provinces of Kandahar and Helmand, as a violation of the Doha agreement.

The airstrikes carried out on Thursday “would lead to consequences”, Pajhwok News quoted Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, as saying in a statement.

“American occupation forces carried out airstrikes in Kandahar and Helmand, causing casualties to civilians and some mujahideen,” the Taliban said the statement.

While denouncing the strikes as barbaric, the militant group slammed them as a clear violation of the agreement between the US and the Taliban.

“(President) Ashraf Ghani recently made an announcement that he has planned major operations in the next six months,” the statement added.

During the period, the outfit said, responsibility for all military developments would fall on the leaders of the Ghani administration, the report said.

Mujahid said the fighters would defend areas under their control.

The insurgents would not remain in a defensive posture if the government forces insisted on war, he warned.

Under the withdrawal deal between the Taliban and the administration of former US President Donald, all foreign troops were to leave Afghanistan by May 2021.

But in April, President Joe Biden said all US troops would be brought home by September 11, a decision that drew strong criticism from the Taliban.

Biden reaffirms support for Afghanistan

Meanwhile, during a phone call with his Afghan counterpart Ashraf Ghani, President Joe Biden reaffirmed Washington’s support for Kabul as fighting has escalated in the war-torn country since the withdrawal of American forces began in May.

According to the White, the two leaders discussed the present situation in Afghanistan and reaffirmed their commitment to an enduring bilateral partnership.

“President Biden emphasized continued US support, including development and humanitarian aid, for the Afghan people, including women, girls, and minorities,” it said.

Biden and Ghani also agreed that the “Taliban’s current offensive is in direct contradiction to the movement’s claim to support a negotiated settlement of the conflict”, according to the White House.

The US leader also reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to continue supporting the Afghan security forces to defend themselves.

The White House further said that the planned $3.3 billion of security assistance for Kabul in fiscal year 2022 would prioritise capabilities of the Afghan Air Force, key supplies, and salaries for Afghan troops.

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In a tweet on Saturday morning, Ghani said: “President Biden reassured me that support for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) will continue. We have confidence that they will protect and defend Afghanistan.

“We stressed on the importance of the Afghans coming together for peace and security. And reiterated the enduring partnership, continued diplomatic and economic support for the Afghan government, security forces and the importance of preserving the gains of the last 20 years.”

The call came amidst a sharp rise in violence as Taliban militants have continued to wage a war against government forces and gain ground since the drawdown began on May 1.

Over 200 districts, including some key border towns, have fallen to the Taliban in the last two months.

But the government has assured to retake the districts, especially the border towns in Herat and Kandahar provinces.

Biden had ordered the US military to end its mission in Afghanistan by August 31, days ahead of his original September 11 deadline.

US Central Command said last week over 95 percent of the withdrawal had been completed.

3 Afghan districts change hands in 24 hrs

The escalating fighting and ambiguity over the future of Afghanistan have triggered concerns among the civilians as both the government forces and the Taliban have been fighting to gain more grounds with three districts having changed hands over the past 24 hours.

Taliban militants, according to media reports, seized Garmsir and Marja districts of Helmand province on Thursday, while an army statement claimed that the government troops recaptured Karukh district in Herat province.

The government forces have also evicted Taliban militants from several villages from around Kunduz city, provincial police chief Zabardast Khan Safi said.

Since the start of the withdrawal of the US-led foreign forces from Afghanistan early in May, the Taliban fighters have intensified activities and overrun more than 170 districts, according to reports.

Ahmad Nader Nadery, a senior government official and a member of the Afghan government negotiation team for peace talks with the Taliban, has confirmed Taliban rule over 116 districts in 29 provinces.

However, a Taliban spokesman for the group’s Doha office has claimed the seizure of some 200 districts over the past two months.

Spokesman for the Defence Ministry Fawad Aman said recently that the government forces would launch counter-offensive to recapture all the districts overrun by the Taliban outfit.

According to the Ministry on Friday, a total of 152 Taliban fighters have been killed and 53 others injured over the past 24 hours elsewhere in the country and the security and defence forces would continue to chase the insurgents.

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