Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
At least 6 people were freed from a Taliban prison in Ghazni province, provincial officials reported.
A statement issued by the Ghazni press office confirmed that Afghan special forces during a special raid had released 6 people from a Taliban prison in the province. The statement added that special forces carried out the operation on Wednesday night.
The rescued individuals include an army soldier, 2 police personnel and 3 civilians.
The statement further added that the operations of special forces continues in Musa Khel, Abdullah Qala and Matakhan villages of Giro district which inflicted heavy causalities on Taliban. However, there are no exact figures of Taliban causalities.
Security officials reported that 5 IS-K terrorists were killed and 3 others wounded in Kunar Province.
201 Selab Corps in a statement said on Thursday that as a result of NATO forces airstrike carried out on Wednesday in Chapa Dara and Sawkai district of the province, 5 IS-K terrorists were killed and 3 others injured.
The statement added that, civilians were not harmed in the operation.
The Presidential candidate, Rahmatullah Nabil has emphasized on having peace with dignity and said achieving peace through Pakistan is ‘slavery”.
During an electoral campaign in Maidan Wardak province, Nabil declared that all Afghan people demand peace, but the way of gaining peace is crucial.
“We do not want a peace in which one week looks white and the next becomes black, we want stability and should be cautious about this.” Nabil said.
He stressed that the red line for “Justice and Security” team is republicanism. He said that, the peace talks should continue after holding the Presidential Election.
He praised the peace plan of the former President, Dr. Najib, saying Pakistan did not allow his national plan to be implemented and today Pakistan does not want a real peace for Afghanistan too.
He also said the cause of current situation in Afghanistan is due to the lack of government leader programs, pointing that some candidates have copied Obama, Putin and Hillary Clinton’s campaigns that are not applicable to Afghanistan.
He promised that If he wins the presidential election, he will hopefully make the Afghan people prosper.
Rahmatullah Nabil is the fourth candidate among the 18 presidential candidates and has begun his campaign trips to various provinces.
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced that the transferring process of election materials to the provinces will start tomorrow, August 30.
IEC in a press release said, “The packaging process of election materials started yesterday and will continue up to the next 20 days. Also the transferring process of materials will be started tomorrow and will continue up to the next 22 days.”
IEC has urged the monitoring and observing institutions to submit a list of their monitories and observers who will monitor the process.
According to the press release, the institutions that have not received letter of credence are allowed to receive credentials in accordance with bills and procedures in order to monitor and observe the election process.
The Presidential election is scheduled to be held on 28 September all across Afghanistan.
At a news conference in Kabul yesterday, the interior minister said the transfer of electoral materials to all provinces is being carried out in coordination with the IEC, and security forces are working to turn the threat zones to normal.
The operation to retake the districts under control of Taliban have been launched in Badakhshan. More than 50 Taliban insurgents were killed in the exercise, officials said.
Nek Mohammad Nazari provincial spokesperson told Reporterly on Thursday that an extensive operation has been launched since the past two days, to recapture the districts which are under the control of Taliban.
He confirmed that more than 50 Taliban insurgents were killed as a result of the raids.
The joint clearance operations are carried out by air forces, commando, Police Special Unit, National Army, National Directorate of Security, local police and Public Uprising Forces, Nazari said.
Badakhshan provincial spokesperson emphasized, that the security forces are near to Kuran Wa Munjan district. He also said that in the operations 5 personnel of the joint forces were killed.
The Taliban group had captured Kuran Wa Munjan district on 22nd July.
According to a report published in Reuters, Russia is ready to be a guarantor of any peace deal for Afghanistan agreed between the United States and the Taliban, the Russian foreign ministry said on Wednesday.
“The Russian side is ready to be the third party at the signing or a guarantor of how the deal between the United States and the Taliban movement is implemented,” the TASS news agency quoted ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying.
Earlier, the Taliban said it was close to an agreement with U.S. officials on a deal. Negotiations over how to end the 18-year war in Afghanistan have been held in Doha, capital of Qatar, since late last year. The ninth round of talks began last week.
Despite President Donald Trump’s constant reminders that the U.S. military could quickly and decisively win the war in Afghanistan at the cost of millions of innocent lives, the U.S. government is committed to negotiating with the Taliban rather than atomising them.
At Wednesday’s Pentagon news briefing, Defense Secretary Mark Esper was asked by ‘Task and Purpose’, if the U.S. military retains the right to use nuclear weapons against the Taliban.
Esper responded by saying, “We reserve the right to keep all options on the table, but, look, clearly we have a plan going forward. The key to resolve this conflict is a political agreement. We’re on that path right now. We’re hopeful that we can reach some type of conclusion that would result in a political agreement that can get us on the right trajectory.”
The U.S. military last employed a nuclear weapon during wartime on Aug. 9, 1945. At the time, the United States was the only nuclear power in the world, eight countries are now members of the nuclear club .
Following Wednesday’s Pentagon news conference, arms control expert Kingston Reif tweeted that the United States has vowed not to use nuclear weapons against countries such as Afghanistan, which do not have nuclear weapons and are meeting their obligations as parties to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Provincial officials reported that 8 civilians were killed and wounded in Nangarhar province.
The Nangarhar press office said in a statement on Thursday that, 2 civilians were killed and 6 others injured in a mortar attack in the vicinity of Sorkh Rod district of the province.
The statement confirmed that a child and 4 women were among the injured.
Following the mortar attack, the security forces went to the area, and soon will launch a clearance operation.
The National Security Advisor (NSA) Hamdullah Moheb, has said that the government wants to end the ongoing war in the country which kills dozens every day.
Moheb in his meeting with the elders of Paktia province said that the efforts to bring about peace have begun years ago which will continue.
The NSA also discussed about the security and development situation of Paktia and urged the Paktia elders to share their proposals and schemes to government for the betterment of security and asked them cooperate with the security forces.
While Moheb talked about efforts to end the current war, previously in an interview with VOA, he had said that there is no hope for signing a peace agreement with the Taliban before holding the Presidential Election. He had even commented that the issues in intra-Afghan talks will take much time.
Taliban spokesperson said that significant progress has been made in peace process. Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen said in a tweet on Thursday that, “Our negotiations continued till 2:30 am Thursday. Mullah Baradar and Khalilzad were also present. Substantial progress has been made and the negotiations will resume on Thursday afternoon at 1 pm Doha time.” He did not comment on the developments.
Meanwhile, The United States and the Taliban officials resumed the ninth round of talks in Qatar on Thursday 22 August with a focus to finalize the peace deal and also work on the means of implementing the agreement.
Following that, Suhail Shaheen said that both sides are trying to finalize the final points of the peace deal.
Sediq Sediqqi spokesperson for presidential palace said on Wednesday that the Afghan government is closely monitoring the peace process and that the republican system could never have an alternative in the country because Afghan people have made sacrifices in this regard for many years.
He also said that, US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad will visit Kabul in next 1-2 days and they are waiting for details of ninth round of US-Taliban talks.
Addressing a press conference at Pentagon, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Wednesday said that it’s too early to talk about a full withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.
“I’m not using the ‘withdraw’ word right now,” Dunford remarked about the nearly 18-year war. It’s our judgment that the Afghans need support to deal with the level of violence in the country today, he added.
This comes when, the U.S. and the Taliban seemed to be approaching a deal in which U.S. forces would withdraw in exchange for guarantees that Afghanistan would not become a haven for other terrorist groups.
Dunford said any peace agreement would be based on security conditions on the ground. He noted Afghan forces are not yet able to secure the country without help from allied forces and it wasn’t yet clear when they would be.
“We don’t want Afghanistan to be a sanctuary from which the homeland can be threatened,We want peace and stability for Afghan people.” Dunford said.
General Dunford said he had tried to keep his Afghan counterparts informed on developments. “The one thing I’m sure about in the future is our posture is going to adjust,” he said.
Meanwhile, U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has prioritized getting the Taliban to agree to intra-Afghan talks and a permanent cease-fire.
Moreover, Taliban have kept up a near-daily rate of deadly attacks, despite holding several rounds of talks with Khalilzad since his appointment almost a year ago.