Security

Taliban unable to take on Afghan forces directly: officials

By Ziar

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Afghan policemen March 1 in Kabul guard the site of a suicide car bombing. The Taliban attacked two local security compounds that day. [Shah Marai/AFP]

KABUL -- With the start of the Taliban's annual spring offensive, this year dubbed Operation Mansouri, Afghan officials and citizens expressed confidence in security forces and reiterated calls for peace.

With Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) and international troops closing in, insurgents are able only to carry out suicide and guerrilla-style attacks, as they lack the ability to fight on the battlefield, officials say.

"The terrorists are unable to fight face to face with the Afghan forces," Ministry of Defence spokesman Mohammad Radmanesh told Salaam Times.

Instead, he said, the Taliban resort to small-scale attacks on military and civilian installations.

"[The Taliban] just attack to kill Afghans, but I can tell you that our heroes have the capacity [to destroy them]," Radmanesh said, adding that the ANDSF launch 20 counter-militancy operations per day throughout Afghanistan.

Modern military equipment essential

Nonetheless, ANDSF casualties are "shockingly high" with 807 Afghan troops killed fighting the Taliban and other insurgent groups in the first six weeks of 2017, according to the latest quarterly report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, released April 30.

Civilian casualties also reached an all-time high in 2016 with 3,498 killed and 7,920 injured according to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

The trend continued from January to March 2017, with 715 civilians killed and 1,466 injured in Afghanistan's grinding conflict, the UN reported April 27. A third of the total civilian casualties were children, amounting to 210 killed and 525 injured.

Afghan forces need modern equipment and technology to prevail in their fight against terrorism, Radmanesh said.

"We asked the coalition forces to equip the Afghan forces with air war technology such as jets and bombers, mine-detecting technology, rockets, developed airport facilities, etc," he said.

"The more they provide these facilities, the more success we will have," he said.

"In the past six months, the terrorists mostly launched attacks on public installations and on military units," said Tawab Ghorzang, former spokesman for the Office of the National Security Council of Afghanistan.

While many Afghan troops have made the ultimate sacrifice in the war against terrorists, they also foiled the militants' "shameful attempts" to attack public places, he told Salaam Times.

Afghans desperate for peace

"Afghans desperately want to live in peace, and they want practical steps to be taken in this regard," Farhad Sediqi, a member of the Wolesi Jirga, the lower chamber of parliament, told Salaam Times.

"The Taliban and other terrorist groups cannot break the Afghan forces," he said. "They cannot achieve anything by launching suicide attacks. They were beaten in the past 15 years, and their failures will continue."

Sediqi urged the Taliban "to join the peace process and not to be deceived by the promises they receive from foreigners".

"War is not in the favour of Afghans," he said.

Amir, a shopkeeper in Kabul, shared Sediqi's sentiments.

"We want the Taliban to join the peace process instead of using weapons," he told Salaam Times.

"The Taliban and other terrorist groups are trying to gain support from [...] Iran so they continue killing Afghans," he said. "But, in my opinion, they will be beaten this time too because Afghans have understood there is no other option except peace and the elimination of terrorists."

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