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Helmand offensive; Taliban rebels violate peace deal with US

AT News

KABUL: Taliban’s last week on Lashkargah city, the provincial capital of Helmand province proved the insurgent group has broken promises not to target big cities, ministry of interior said.

Taliban launched massive attacks on the provincial capital from different directions on the weekend and took parts of Lashkar Gah for a short time.

The attack comes after the US special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad assured that the militants would reduce violence and not attack big cities after February’s peace deal Khalilzad signed with Taliban negotiators.

But the interior ministry said Tuesday that the militants failed to fulfill their promise.

“Taliban didn’t fulfill their promises. They allege but false. They said to reduce violence, but we witnessed increase in their attacks in different areas of Helmand and Kunduz,” Tareq Aryan, spokesman of interior ministry said.

Hundreds of people displaced due to Helmand attacks.

“Taliban will intensify war as they attacked Helmand. This will disappoint people to peace efforts. The war means that peace is meaningless to Taliban who don’t respect Afghans and international community. But the Taliban should realize that they will not win the war,” Sediq Sediqqi, President Ghani’s spokesman said.

Separately, Mark Milley, the US chairman of joint chiefs of staff, told the Western media that Taliban had vowed in US peace deal not to attack Afghan big cities.

Taliban had agreed that they wouldn’t attack big cities and to cut ties with al-Qaeda and other international terrorist groups once the US pulls troops out of Afghanistan.

Milley said that violence was reduced this year comparing to the past years even as it was not reduced in recent months.

Meanwhile, Taliban Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, said the group was committed to their promises.

He said that their fighters took back control of the areas that government forces had taken them earlier.

At least 80 Taliban fighters and six government forces were killed and injured in Helmand clashes, according to provincial officials.

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