KABUL – The Taliban announced their annual spring offensive in Afghanistan on Friday with a special focus on capturing urban areas.
The statement came amid peace talks with the United States and just few days ahead of a scheduled intra-Afghan dialogue in Doha, Qatar, in which representatives of the government are expected to take part.
“As defending one’s religion, homeland, life, property and honor is compulsory and complete independence of an Islamic country from the clutches of foreign occupation a Jihadi obligation, hence for the fulfillment of this responsibility, the Islamic Emirate declares Al-Fath Jihadi Operations,” the Taliban said in a statement.
In the spring, the improving weather allows Taliban fighters to resume operations after three months of cold.
“Our Jihadi obligation has not yet ended. They (the United States) not only maintain political control of our homeland but daily bomb our fellow countrymen. They used the Kabul administration to continue killing Afghans, extending occupation and preventing an Islamic system by announcing Khalid military operations,” the Taliban said referring to an annual military operation announced by the Afghan Defense Ministry on March 21.
The Taliban forces are this time launching their spring offensive nearly 15 days ahead of their normal time. They usually resume fighting at the end of April.
The group is looking to capture urban areas this year and asked its fighters to pay attention to the prevention of civilian casualties, to protect the lives and property of fellow Afghans and guard welfare projects during the Al-Fath operation.
“The Mujahideen possess unbreakable Jihadi determination and benefit from armed experience, new tactics, public support, influence inside enemy ranks and advanced weapons, therefore we are hopeful that large areas including townships (urban areas) and other centers shall be cleansed from enemy presence,” they said.
The Taliban said a key part of Al-Fath (“Victory”) operations would be to convince Afghan police and army members to join the Taliban ranks without fighting.
“The day is near that the Jihadi aspirations of our martyrs, wounded, prisoners, migrants and oppressed people are fulfilled, an Islamic system established and our homeland cleansed from American occupation and evil elements through ultimate Al-Fath,” they said.
In the first hours of their spring offensive, a Taliban spokesman said its fighters used mortars to attack Bagram airbase, the largest US military installation in the country, and inflicted losses on the Americans.
The group is scheduled to meet Afghan politicians and representatives of the government between April 19-21 in Doha for an intra-Afghan dialogue. If it happens, it will be the first meeting between Afghan government representatives and the Taliban since the US started peace talks with the latter in 2018.