The US condemned the Taliban’s launch of a new spring offensive in Afghanistan as the world’s biggest military power continues to pursue peace talks with militants in the war-torn country.
Calling the Taliban move “reckless,” US Special Envoy on Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said on Twitter that the insurgents demonstrated their “indifference” to the peace demands of the Afghan people.
The US and its allies will stand with Afghan forces to end the country’s 18 years of war, he said.
The insurgents that control or contest half the country have increasingly stepped up attacks on government and US compounds across the country, inflicting heavy military and civilian casualties at a time when talks with the US are entering a key phase.
More than 100 Taliban insurgents and dozens of Afghan soldiers were killed during a Taliban attack on Badghis province in the past two weeks.
And in a separate roadside bombing near a US base, three American soldiers were killed. Local forces are now attempting to thwart the group’s raids on many other provinces such as Helmand and Nangarhar.
Hostilities have continued despite the US reaching a draft agreement with the Taliban after six months of talks. The draft deal should eventually lead to the withdrawal of US and NATO forces from the country, in exchange for a Taliban pledge not to allow terrorists to use Afghanistan as a base to attack the West or other nations. Khalilzad aims to finalise the agreement before the country’s presidential election slated for September.
As the battles turn deadlier nationwide, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is also intensifying efforts to eventually end the bloodshed. He recently created a top leadership council for reconciliation, whose members include former President Hamid Karzai, top political leaders and former warlords.
The board will then create a negotiating team to represent the Afghan government in talks with the Taliban.
Ghani will also send more than 100 elite Afghans on April 19 to exchange views on peace with Taliban leaders.