KANDAHAR -- The Taliban suffered historic losses in a recent operation conducted by joint Afghan forces in Zabul Province, authorities say.
The operation ran from September 8 through November 11 and was named for former Kandahar Police Chief Gen. Abdul Raziq, who was killed by the Taliban on October 18, 2018.
Afghan forces killed over 100 Taliban fighters and wounded 50 others during the operations, according to local security forces.
"The Taliban never saw such a defeat and this many casualties in the history of Zabul Province as they did in the operation named for martyred Gen. Raziq," said Zabul Provincial Governor Rahmatullah Yarmal.
"In these operations, Afghan security forces were able to evict the Taliban from more than 40 villages in Shah Joy, Shinkay and Naw Bahar districts in Zabul, where the Taliban had safe havens," he said.
"The Taliban saw casualties and incurred financial losses in these operations, and their leadership for Zabul was permanently destroyed," Yarmal said. "Key Taliban commanders Maulawi Baryalai, Hamdo Mukhlis and Asadullah and tens of their other commanders were killed during air and ground strikes."
"The Taliban planned to capture Zabul this year, but their plans were spoiled by the security forces," he said. "As they have lost their ability to engage directly in fighting with the security forces, they have turned to harming civilians by planting land mines, causing civilian casualties."
The Afghan National Police, National Army, National Directorate of Security (NDS) forces and commandos took part in the operations, said Zabul Police Chief Najibullah Sartair.
"The goal of the operations was to clear the Kabul-Kandahar highway of the Taliban as well as to clean out a number of areas in Shah Joy, Naw Bahar, Shinkay and Shamalzo districts where terrorists had safe havens," he said.
New checkpoints that will improve security were built in areas recently cleared of the Taliban, he added.
"During these ground and air operations, 56 roadside bombs were detected and cleared, and most of the main roads where the Taliban had planted mines were reopened for traffic," he said.
"During these operations, 113 terrorists were killed and around 50 injured in Shinkay, Naw Bahar, Shamalzo and Mizan districts and the provincial capital of Qalat," Sartair said.
As the Taliban do not have the ability to fight the security forces face to face, they launched missiles and planted land mines that kill civilians, he said.
"They martyred and injured about 20 civilians during the past one month," he said November 16.
Residents welcome operations
Zabul tribal elders and representatives of the area expressed content with the operations conducted by the Afghan security forces and said security has improved in Zabul Province.
Haji Atta Jan Haqbayan, chairman of the Zabul provincial council, accused the Taliban of fighting in Afghanistan to achieve the interests of Iran and other foreign countries.
"They kill Afghans only to please their masters, but in Operation Gen. Abdul Raziq Achakzai, they saw unprecedented casualties that will never allow them to fight the Afghan security forces in this province again," he said.
"The Taliban are shelling to harm civilians and plant roadside mines that have inflicted casualties on the public," he said.
Haqbayan called on the government to launch more operations that can either prepare the Taliban for peace talks or destroy them.
Local authorities are working to restore normality and lasting security to the province, said Yarmal.
"In addition to implementing rehabilitation projects, we plan to establish a local army in the area," he said.