The Ministry of Defense (MoD) on Sunday said the Afghan security forces have doubled their offensive operations against insurgents, their hideouts and strongholds in many regions of the country after President Ashraf Ghani declared an end to government’s unilateral ceasefire with the Taliban.
Following the end of the unilateral ceasefire, air operations and security forces’ operations have been doubled against insurgents, compared to previous months, the MoD said.
Defense officials have said that currently the Afghan security forces are carrying out their planned, anti-insurgent campaign in at least nine provinces.
“Air force and security forces have increased their offensive operations. The move to increase the level of operations is to maintain peace in Afghanistan,” said a defense ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanish.
Meanwhile, members of the People’s Peace Movement (PPM), formerly known as the Helmand Peace Convoy, reiterated their calls to the warring sides to establish a ceasefire agreement and end the war.
“We had a life during the three-day truce over Eid. We cannot achieve anything from the war, therefore we call on the warring sides to seal a ceasefire accord,” said peace activist Mohammad Amin.
But, the Afghan government says that extending the ceasefire unilaterally is not the answer.
“A unilateral ceasefire is not possible, because we are accountable to the faithful people of Afghanistan and the Constitution of the country,” said Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak.
In addition, the US envoy to Afghanistan John Bass has welcomed the Afghan forces’ operations against the Taliban.
“We certainly support the Afghan government’s efforts to reduce violence around the country, but at the same time, we continue to strongly support the Afghan security forces in defending themselves and in conducting operations against the Taliban in areas where the Taliban is continuing to fight,” said Bass.
According to Afghan military officials, the operations are also aimed at boosting security ahead of the scheduled parliamentary and district council elections.
In the latest development, Afghan security forces launched an offensive operation in Chamtal district of northern Balkh province. So far at least 16 Taliban fighters have been killed.
The operation, “Walid 9”, has so far been effective and five villages have been cleared of insurgents, provincial police chief Gen. Mohammad Akram Sami said on Sunday.
“Sixteen Taliban members were killed in the operation and the bodies of eight of them remain on the ground,” Sami said, adding that “Shorabak, Arab-Mazari, Jar Qala, Ayen Qala and Alizaye are the villages that have been cleared of insurgents.”
The officials said that the operation was launched when the Taliban closed in on the Chamtal district center.
Sami said the Taliban fighters involved in the assault had come in from Sar-e-Pul, Jawzjan and Balkh province and had planned to take control of the district center.
Afzal Hadid, head of Balkh Provincial Council, told TOLOnews on Friday that the Taliban had gained on the district center and were planning to seize control of the area.
Chamtal is located in the west of Balkh and is among the most vulnerable districts in the province in terms of security.
Kunar, Nangarhar, Farah, Helmand, Kunduz, Faryab, Uruzgan and Ghazni are among the provinces where security forces are currently trying to tackle insurgents. Security forces are also conducting operations in the eastern and western regions of the country.