LASHKARGAH, Helmand -- The people of Helmand say they are fed up with the Taliban's on-going war and oppression in their province.
The real victims of the Taliban's 15 years of war are women, children and civilians in general, because the militants seize their homes, booby-trap public buildings and use innocent Afghans as human shields, residents say.
Abdul Saboor, 30, fled his hometown in Nawa District, Helmand Province, out of fear of the Taliban's oppression. He resides now in Lashkargah, the provincial capital.
"The Taliban hide in people's houses," he told Salaam Times, saying the militants evict civilians from their own houses.
Those commandeered houses become bases for attacks, he said.
The terrorists also "prevent people from leaving war zones, to save themselves from being targeted by air and ground forces", he added. "The Taliban use Helmand residents as human shields."
The number of Helmand residents affected has climbed into the thousands.
"The war waged by the Taliban against the people of Helmand has resulted in the displacement of more than 3,000 residents of the province in the past two months," provincial governor's spokesman Omar Zwak said.
"Those people have lost everything," he said. "They live in tents in Lashkargah."
The Taliban practise a cruel twist when they leave houses that they have seized, he told Salaam Times, saying they booby-trap them to keep the rightful residents from returning home.
Ordinary Afghans are the main victims of the Taliban, he said.
The Taliban "in August beheaded a teacher and a head teacher in...Nawa District, to prevent the continuation of education in Helmand", he said.
Taliban defeated on battlefield
The abuse of civilians comes after the Taliban no longer are capable of fighting on the battlefield, military commanders in Helmand Province say.
The Taliban "co-operated with terror groups like the Haqqani Network, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in ... trying to conquer Helmand", Afghan National Army (ANA) Col. Nematullah Khalil told Salaam Times.
"The brave security forces crushed them on all fronts," he said.
"Taliban offensives in Nawa, Gereshk, Nad-e-Ali and Sangin [districts] all failed," Ministry of Interior spokesman Najib Danish told Salaam Times. "Security forces have destroyed Taliban forces in co-ordinated and organised operations."
"The Taliban have suffered heavy casualties in Helmand Province," Gen. Murad Ali Murad, deputy ANA chief of staff, who is based presently in Helmand, said at a recent news conference. "This terror group, which is unable to deal with security forces directly, has resorted to targeting civilians through booby-trapping public places and roads."
Destroying the Taliban and ISIL
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is assuring the people of Helmand of his commitment to annihilate the Taliban.
"The government of Afghanistan is committed to destroying the Taliban and any other terrorist groups that fight the people and government of Afghanistan," said Shah Hussain Mortazavi, a Ghani spokesperson.
"The president has given special orders, so that providing necessary assistance to the displaced people of Helmand Province can take place as soon as possible," he told Salaam Times.
On the occasion of Afghanistan's 97th Independence Day August 18, Ghani issued a strong warning to the Taliban and the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL).
"Although our country is facing terror threats, our security forces will make Afghanistan a graveyard for the Taliban as well as for all other terror groups," he said, expressing his appreciation for the sacrifices of Afghan security forces.
"ISIL will be destroyed not only in Nangarhar but also in other parts of Afghanistan," Ghani said.