Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, on Monday said that while peace talks have continued in Doha, violence has increased alongside.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Zamzam Foundation, a charity to support war victims and orphans, Abdullah said that historic steps have been taken for peace.
“The talks are underway, the steps which are taken are preliminary and historic steps, but the Afghan people expect these talks to be accelerated and violence to be reduced,” he said.
“Unfortunately, along with the peace talks, the violence has increased and caused concern among the people.”
Abdullah also said that an “acceptable” peace will be one in which the rights of different strata of the country, ethnic groups and minorities are maintained.
On the process of foreign troop withdrawal, Abdullah said, “The leadership of each country’s system decides according to its own plan and strategy, but in any case the international community is firmly committed to the stable future of Afghanistan, and lasting relations with partner countries will continue.”
Taliban’s continued offensive in Helmand
The New York Times (NYT) spoke to Rohullah Ahmadzai, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence (MoD), who said that in the past 24 hours, the Taliban carried out attacks in 20 of the country’s 34 provinces.
NYT says that the Taliban attacks on Lashkar Gah and its surrounding areas in Helmand, is in-line with strategy to launch a large-scale attack towards the end of the “fighting season” so that morale of their fighters remain high during the winter months.
“The run for a provincial capital amid peace talks suggested that the Taliban still see military bullying as their most effective negotiating tactic,” the NYT reports.
The attack also appeared to test how far the U.S. troops, who are in the midst of a drawdown, will go to defend their Afghan allies.
In the past few months, U.S. envoys have repeatedly remarked that the Taliban have not carried out any attacks on foreign troops in keeping with the conditions set by the Doha agreement. Instead, the militant’s attacks again Afghan security forces have intensified.
On Monday, the U.S. Forces in Afghanistan (USFOR-A) released a statement that they had carried “several targeted strikes” in Helmand to defend Afghan security forces under attack from the Taliban.
Pro-Taliban accounts were posting minute-by-minute updates of the group’s march on the city, NYT says.
Provincial council members have detailed that Taliban have overrun security checkpoints in the suburbs and closed the roads leading out of the city.