US: Taliban attacks 'contradict its claim to support' peace process

US: Taliban attacks 'contradict its claim to support' peace process
·3 min read

A milestone military victory for the Taliban is casting doubt on whether the militant group intends to negotiate a power-sharing agreement with the central government, according to State Department officials alarmed by the worsening security crisis.

Amid a string of Taliban successes, Kabul has been rocked by attacks in recent days, with the group targeting Afghan government officials and Afghan air force pilots, U.S. Charge d'Affaires Ross Wilson's team is criticizing the group for taking actions contrary to its purported support for peace negotiations.

"We condemn the Taliban's violent new offensive against Afghan cities," the U.S. Embassy said. "These Taliban actions to forcibly impose its rule are unacceptable and contradict its claim to support a negotiated settlement in the Doha peace process. They demonstrate wanton disregard for the welfare and rights of civilians and will worsen this country's humanitarian crisis."

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The warning is set against a backdrop of Taliban successes, including the group's "unlawful seizure," as the embassy termed it, of the first provincial capital to fall since the withdrawal of most U.S. forces from the country. The embassy issued the rebuke on the same day that officials urged any Americans left to board the next "available commercial flight" out of the country.

"The U.S. Embassy urges U.S. citizens to leave Afghanistan immediately using available commercial flight options," the message reads. "Given the security conditions and reduced staffing, the Embassy's ability to assist U.S. citizens in Afghanistan is extremely limited even within Kabul."

A pilot was killed Saturday in a car bombing that injured five other people, according to the local TOLO News, and three other people were wounded in an attack on an Afghan Rail Authority vehicle.

Those attacks followed the assassination Friday of the Afghan government's top press official.

"We are saddened & disgusted by the Taliban's targeted killing of Dawa Khan Meenapal, a friend and colleague, whose career was focused on providing truthful information to all Afghans about Afghanistan," Wilson tweeted Friday. "These murders are an affront to Afghans' human rights & freedom of speech."

Taliban forces also killed eight people in a bombing of the Afghan defense minister's home in Kabul earlier this week, but the intended target was not at home at the time and survived.

The assassination attempts paralleled Taliban assaults on provincial capitals in a new campaign for city centers that follows months of seizing rural territory. The militants won a milestone victory Friday when they took control of Zaranj, a trading center on the Iranian border, but Afghan forces backed by U.S. airstrikes are having more success in defense of larger cities.

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"We call for the Taliban to agree to a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire and to engage fully in peace negotiations to end the suffering of the Afghan people and pave the way for an inclusive political settlement that benefits all Afghans and ensures that Afghanistan does not again serve as a safe haven for terrorists," the U.S. Embassy said Saturday.

Half of all district centers in Afghanistan are under Taliban control, according to Reuters.

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Tags: News, Foreign Policy, National Security, Taliban, Afghanistan, State Department, Terrorism

Original Author: Joel Gehrke

Original Location: US: Taliban attacks 'contradict its claim to support' peace process

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