Security

Taliban must stop offensive operations or face air strikes, US general warns

By Salaam Times and AFP

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A US Navy fighter jet flies over Afghanistan January 23, 2020. [Coalition Forces]

KABUL -- The top US commander in Afghanistan on Tuesday (June 29) did not rule out conducting air strikes against the Taliban if they pressed on with their campaign of capturing new territory across the country.

Fighting has surged across the rugged countryside since early May when the US military began withdrawing troops.

In Kabul on Tuesday, US Gen. Scott Miller, commander of US troops in Afghanistan, told reporters the US military still has the firepower to conduct air strikes against the insurgents even as it continues the withdrawal.

"I still have the authority to support and defend the Afghan security forces and certainly defend ourselves as well," he said.

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Gen. Scott Miller (R), commander of US forces in Afghanistan, with then-acting Afghan Defence Minister Asadullah Khalid (C) in a visit to the Afghan National Army (ANA) checkpoint in west Kabul on June 6, 2019. [Thomas Watkins/AFP]

"What I like to see is no air strikes, but to get to no air strikes, you stop all violence," said Miller, adding that he has told the Taliban to stop offensive operations.

In footage obtained by AFP from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the general cautioned the Taliban against attempting to take control of the country by force.

Voice of America quoted Miller as saying that "a military takeover is not in the interest of anyone, certainly not for the people of Afghanistan."

"The way it must end for the Afghan people is something that revolves around a political solution," Miller said. "If you don't reduce the violence, that political solution becomes more and more difficult."

He emphasised the need for Afghan government and Taliban negotiators to return to the negotiating table in Doha to seek a political settlement to hostilities.

Afghan security forces are making "the appropriate adjustments as we move forward," Miller added.

Also on Tuesday, the Interior Affairs Ministry said it had created a 4,000- member "rapid reaction force" to be led by retired army generals who will fight the Taliban alongside regular security forces.

Gen. Ajmal Omar Shinwari, spokesperson for the Afghan security sector, said that their members are all Afghan citizens who have come out to defend their country against the Taliban.

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I think Taliban will once again take over the power in Afghanistan soon. Now this group has internal and external support with themselves. When you go to the North and Northeast of Afghanistan, as well as to the districts of Takhar, Badakhshan, Kunduz and Baghlan, you will see people supporting the Taliban. There are anti- government lessons taught in all madrasas (religious schools) of the above mentioned districts. The situation is very bad, particularly in Takhar and Badakhshan right now. People are tired of the oppression and cruelty of the Arbaki (Afghan Local Police); therefore, they support Taliban. Businessmen, whose lives and capitals are not secure for the existence of these robbers, support Taliban. Only those people support the government who are paid and have jobs in the government. All the other citizens of the country support Taliban. In the last presidential elections, you saw that out of 20 million eligible voters, just less than 2 million took part. It becomes clear that people are dissatisfied with the current government. The Afghan statesmen are quarreling over power. People know that they are not caring about people, but they are caring about filling their own pockets. Poverty and unemployment have reached to their peak. Now Taliban are also being supported by the countries of the region. Russia, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates now recognize the group; therefore, if the major powers in the region, including America, would not intervene, my hypothesis i

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Now Taliban are evaluating their military power and attack at the places that are easy and simple for them to capture. Withdrawal in a war is natural, and the government must withdraw its security forces from vulnerable areas. The security agencies should conduct a general survey and withdraw its forces from the areas where it is difficult to provide assistance. With the withdrawal of these forces, the defensive lines become stronger and the forces should be used against the offensive attacks of the Taliban. The government must formulate a proper strategy against the offensive attacks of Taliban and alter the security forces from defensive to offensive positions. When security forces or one of the districts is attacked, immediate action should be taken to change the situation. The defensive lines should be coordinated in a way as the districts not fall and the equipment is not captured by Taliban so that the chance of propaganda for the armed dissidents is not provided.

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Taliban are global terrorists and if they take control of Afghanistan, be confident that America will not be secure as well.

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