Taliban launches spring offensive; dashes Afghan peace hopes

Afghan men prepare the graves for the victims of Sunday's suicide attack at a voter registration center in Kabul, Afghanistan,on April 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
Updated 27 April 2018

Taliban launches spring offensive; dashes Afghan peace hopes

  • Group vows to employ ‘new and intricate tactics’ in response to ‘new war strategy of the enemy’
  • The Taliban says it will focus on “crushing, killing and capturing American invaders and their supporters.”

KABUL: The Taliban’s announcement on Tuesday of the launch of its annual spring offensive has dashed the chances of peace talks with the Afghan government

The announcement follows last week’s deadly attack by Daesh on a voter registration center in Kabul. 

“When the Taliban declares its spring offensive, it’s not only rejecting President Ashraf Ghani’s peace overture, but also launching a war against it,” Mohammed Daud Kalakani, a lawmaker from Kabul, told Arab News.

Since the announcement, the Taliban has unleashed a series of attacks, killing dozens of Afghan security personnel and the deputy governor of Logar province, Foreign Ministry officials told Arab News on Friday.

The offensive spells “disaster for the people,” Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammed Radmanesh told Arab News.

“We have our own preparations, and have launched 11 offensives in different parts of the country.”

There have been at least six attacks on voter registration offices, including one in Kabul. The government has acknowledged that many of them are in areas beyond its control, but has vowed to beef up security for parliamentary elections scheduled for October. 

There are fears that the Taliban offensive could escalate violence and reduce the chances of a transparent and secure election.

“So far, only 200,000 people have registered,” Ahmad Saeedi, an analyst and former Afghan diplomat, told Arab News.

“We have 13 million people qualified to vote, so even if we step up security and prolong the period of voter registration, possibly 1 or 2 million will register,” he said.

“Will this be enough of a turnout? Will the election be free, fair and transparent? No. The election will add to the crisis,” he added. 

“Elections are held to bring political stability, but this one will increase the challenges for the government and the people.” Government officials insist the election will be held on time.


Macron says Syrian mercenaries operating in Karabakh

Updated 9 min 10 sec ago

Macron says Syrian mercenaries operating in Karabakh

  • Macron said he had evidence that militants had travelled through the Turkish city of Gaziantep on their way to the conflict in the Caucasus
  • The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Ankara had dispatched at least 300 proxies from northern Syria

BRUSSELS: French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday Syrian extremist fighters were operating in Nagorny Karabakh, where Armenia and Azerbaijan are engaged in heavy fighting.
Macron said he had evidence that militants had travelled through the Turkish city of Gaziantep on their way to the conflict in the Caucasus, where the fiercest clashes in years have left nearly 130 people dead.
"We have information today that indicates with certainty that Syrian fighters from jihadist groups have transited through Gaziantep to reach the theatre of operations in Nagorny Karabakh," Macron said as he arrived for a summit with EU leaders in Brussels.
"This is a very serious new fact, which changes the situation."

Meanwhile, RIA cited the Russian foreign ministry as saying that Moscow knows about Syrian mercenaries in the Nagorno-Karabakh region independently of media reports.

Two Syrian rebel sources have told Reuters that Turkey is sending Syrian rebel fighters to support Azerbaijan.
Armenia has accused Turkey of sending mercenaries to back its ally Azerbaijan and on Monday the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Ankara had dispatched at least 300 proxies from northern Syria.
Macron himself this week condemned what he called Turkey's "reckless and dangerous" statements backing Azerbaijan.
Claims of Turkish meddling in the conflict look set to colour Thursday's summit talks about the EU's relations with Ankara, as Greece and Cyprus push for a tough line against their old enemy.
Nagorny-Karabakh, a majority ethnic Armenian breakaway region inside Azerbaijan, declared independence after the fall of the Iron Curtain, sparking a war in the early 1990s that claimed 30,000 lives.
It is still not recognised as independent by any country, including Armenia, and talks to resolve the conflict have largely stalled since a 1994 ceasefire agreement.