News ID: 314510
Published: 0237 GMT July 05, 2021

Afghan forces plan major counter-offensive against Taliban in north: Kabul

Afghan forces plan major counter-offensive against Taliban in north: Kabul

Taliban say all foreign troops must leave Afghanistan by deadline

Afghan government forces plan to stage a massive counterattack to fend off a Taliban offensive in the north, which has seen dozens of districts falling to the militants, a senior Afghan presidential adviser said on Monday.

The government forces are “absolutely” planning a counterattack, National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib told Russian Sputnik News during a visit to Moscow.

“The Taliban used the vacuum in which the Americans and other international troops were retrograding and launched an unannounced offensive. And that took many of the Afghan security forces by surprise. Because like I said, we were expecting peace, not war,” Mohib emphasized.

"We, unfortunately, have not seen enthusiasm or good faith efforts from the Taliban for [the US-initiated] peace talks so far", he underlined, insisting that Kabul is struggling to see a positive response from the Taliban militants.

However, the people of Afghanistan are “determined” and want to “live in freedom,” he added. “We want to see Taliban included in the government and be represented, but Afghans are not ready to have Taliban dominate all of Afghanistan and dictate the way Afghan people must live.”

“The Afghan national defense and security forces along with the people who have come to support them are working to manage the security situation there,” added the adviser to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

The development came amid reports that more than 1,000 Afghan troops fled into neighboring Tajikistan in the early hours of Monday following skirmishes with Taliban militants, Press TV wrote.

Taliban have launched several major offensives in northern Afghanistan in recent weeks as US and international troops withdraw from the country. The Taliban seized Afghanistan’s main crossing into Tajikistan last month.


Foreign troops to be treated as occupiers

Any foreign troops left in Afghanistan after NATO'S September withdrawal deadline will be at risk as occupiers, the Taliban told the BBC.

It comes amid reports that 1,000 mainly US troops could remain on the ground to protect diplomatic missions and Kabul's international airport.

NATO's 20-year military invasion in Afghanistan has all but ended. But violence in the country continues to rise, with the Taliban taking more territory.

Under a deal with the militant group, the United States and its NATO allies agreed to withdraw all troops in return for a commitment by the Taliban not to allow Al-Qaeda or any other similar group to operate in the areas they control.

US President Joe Biden set a deadline of 11 September – the 20-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the US – for American troops to fully withdraw, but reports suggest the pullout may be complete within days.

As Afghan forces prepare to take charge of security alone, concern is growing for the future of Kabul.

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said seizing Kabul militarily was "not Taliban policy".

But speaking to the BBC from the group's office in Qatar, he said no foreign forces – including military contractors – should remain in the city after the withdrawal was complete.

"If they leave behind their forces against the Doha agreement then in that case it will be the decision of our leadership how we proceed," Shaheen said.

"We would react and the final decision is with our leadership," he added.




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