By: Lailuma Noori
As military operations against the Taliban are going on in various parts of the country, Pentagon has said that US forces have stepped up attacks on the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The U.S. military has stepped up operations against militants in Afghanistan on the orders of President Donald Trump following the very public collapse of peace talks with the Taliban, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters Friday.
“We did step up our attacks on the Taliban since the talks broke down,” Esper told reporters traveling with him back to Washington from Louisville, Ky. “The president did want us to pick up in response to the heinous attacks that the Taliban and others conducted throughout Afghanistan,” including Kabul.
The remarks constitute the Pentagon’s first public confirmation of Trump’s recent pronouncements that U.S. military operations have picked up in recent weeks.
“We did pick up the pace considerably,” Esper added.
The Trump administration last month suspended negotiations with the Taliban that were designed to wind down the 18-year-old conflict after Trump tweeted he was canceling a secretly planned visit by Taliban negotiators to the presidential retreat at Camp David in rural Maryland.
Esper declined to provide details of the stepped-up U.S. operations but said they include both “air and ground” attacks. He also stressed that “Afghans lead these operations on the ground” with U.S. troops present in an advisory role.
Since the suspension of talks, Trump has asserted repeatedly that U.S. forces were striking the Taliban harder.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson to ministry of defense of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Fawad Aman says increasing of the US and ANDSF attacks against Taliban fighters have been effective.
“Undoubtedly the more US and other NATO member countries stand with Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) and increase their cooperation with Afghanistan government, the more we achieve successes and the impacts of the continued cooperation would be considerable and unprecedented,” the MoD spokesperson added.
In addition that US forces have stepped up their attacks against terrorist groups in Afghanistan, Afghan National Defense and Security Forces have also increased their military operations against the group in the country where they have been able to capture a number of districts in various provinces in recent weeks.
Increasing of military operations supported by US air strikes aims at destroying financial resources of the Taliban group, their training centers and supportive networks. Military operations conducted by ANDSF with close air support of US forces have weaken Taliban fighters who have continually tried to attack on provincial capitals as Kunduz and Farah cities.
In early September a tweet announcing the cancellation of the visit, Trump blamed a Taliban suicide attack in Kabul that had killed a U.S. soldier and 11 other people two days earlier. It comes at a time that Afghanistan government has considered peace as the only solution for current challenges facing the country, but the government has stressed that peace talks will restart only when Taliban accepts ceasefire and stop violence in the country.