KABUL -- Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) are building on the success of Operation Shafaq 1 with the launch of the second phase of the military offensive against Taliban and insurgents throughout the country, officials say.
"The targets have been achieved in Kandahar, Zabul, Uruzgan and Daikundi provinces by killing dozens of insurgents and enemies of peace in the region," Gen. Abdul Raziq, commander of police in Kandahar Province, told Salaam Times in October.
Building on that success, Ministry of Interior deputy spokesman Najib Danish told media that the winter military offensive, Operation Shafaq 2, was launched December 9 in Afghanistan's south-eastern zone.
"[ANDSF] are trying to clear the south-eastern provinces from insurgents and bring stability to the region," Danish told Salaam Times.
The operation is not limited to the south-eastern zone but aims to cover the entire country, officials said.
Operation Shafaq 2 is meant to wipe out insurgents in Paktia, Paktika, Logar and Ghazni provinces, according to Thunder 203rd Corps spokesman Fazal Khuda.
The insurgents have failed in the battlefield and want to hide out in civilians' houses, but the troops and civilians will not give them shelter this winter, he told Salaam Times.
Security officials and analysts say they are hopeful that Operation Shafaq 2 will be as swift and effective as its predecessor.
Within two months of its launch, Operation Shafaq 1 resulted in the deaths of at least 1,167 militants, the Ministry of Interior said in May, and troops continued to build on that initial success up until the launch of the second phase of the offensive.
In the first few days of Operation Shafaq 2, Afghan troops killed at least 19 militants in Uruzgan and Parwan provinces, local media reported.
Ministry of Defence spokesman Brig. Gen. Dawlat Waziri told Salaam Times that ANDSF are ready to fight insurgents and destroy terrorists' lairs.
"Shafaq 2 is our plan to bring them out of the villages and houses of the public," he said. "This winter we will attack those areas where Taliban have control."
The locals support the operation and are helping the army give insurgents and Taliban a tough time, he said.
Paktia Governor Zalmai Wisa warned that insurgents who fail to join the peace process will be eliminated by Afghan forces.
"So far our defence and security forces have been successful in the fight with Taliban," he said at a news conference December 9.
He thanked local residents for their support and called on them to continue to co-operate with security forces to maintain security.
Shah Rasool, a tribal elder in Paktia Province, told Salaam Times that residents are happy about Operation Shafaq 2 and will co-operate with ANDSF to eliminate Taliban and all those who are dangerous for the peace of the region.
Kabul-based security analyst Gen. Atiqullah Amarkhil said winter is a good time to launch an offensive against the Taliban and all insurgents.
"In the winter we know from experience that the Taliban do not want to fight but rather want to get ready for the next summer," he told Salaam Times. "During this time they are working to recruit more members and build strength for war."
He expressed hope that the second phase of Operation Shafaq will be as successful as the first, finishing a year in which Afghan forces have made major strides against the Taliban.
Can Russia's efforts help the Taliban and Afghan government reach a lasting peace agreement?