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Afghanistan launches offensive against Taliban after Kabul attacks

Afghan military soldiers stand stand alert at the entrance gate of the new parliament building after a rocket attack in Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP)
KABUL: Afghan security forces, backed by US troops, have increased assaults on Taliban militants following a series of deadly attacks by the insurgents in the Afghan capital.
The Defense Ministry claimed on Sunday that more than 100 militants had been killed in the previous 24 hours.
Gen. Dawlat Waziri, chief spokesperson for the Defense Ministry, said the offensive will continue until the militants surrender.
“We will keep up the offensives because the terrorists have crossed the red line. These attacks are different from their usual ones. We will force the insurgents to either come to the negotiation table or we will kill them,” Waziri told Arab News.
Afghanistan has launched air and ground offensives in Helmand, Nimroz, Uruzgan and Zabul provinces in the south; Faryab and Baghlan in the north; and Ghazni and Logar provinces in the east, while the Taliban suffered its heaviest losses in Kandahar, the Defense Ministry statement said.
However, while conceding it had suffered some casualties in other parts of the country, the Taliban said the victims in Kandahar were civilians, not militants.
The offensives involve Afghan Special Forces and some have also been supported by US air strikes, according to Waziri. He said the crackdown was in response to the wave of terror attacks in urban areas, mostly in Kabul, where over 150 people lost their lives in three separate attacks in recent days.
President Ashraf Ghani described last Tuesday’s horrific Taliban attack in Kabul as “Afghanistan’s 9/11” and has since ordered countrywide offensives against militants who are not interested in engaging with the peace process.
“The important point of the president’s message was that the government will not negotiate with those who take responsibility for the attacks, but will embrace those who condemn them,” chief presidential spokesman Shah Hussain Murtazavi told Arab News.
The Taliban ramped up its attacks following months of strikes by US-led troops and Afghan forces as part of US President Donald Trump’s new Afghan strategy, which focuses on rural areas, mostly in the south, the traditional Taliban stronghold.
Security analyst Abdul Jabar Qahraman, a former general, said the surge in military offensives has been “productive” and has inflicted “heavy losses” on the enemy.
“The war in Afghanistan has two factors: Local and foreign,” he explained. “The main factor is foreign, where the roots of the war lay. You can win the war when you dry up the foreign factor.”
Afghanistan has repeatedly accused Pakistan of supporting the Haqqani network, blamed for a number of terror attacks on Afghan soil. Islamabad denies the claims.
“Under pressure because of past offensives, the Taliban have changed their tactics by conducting suicide attacks …. in urban areas,” Qahraman said. “The government and foreign troops may continue to hit the Taliban in rural areas, but the Taliban in return will try to attack cities. This is not the solution. The real solution is to finish the external element.”