KABUL: The US Forces spokesman Col Sonny Leggett on Saturday clarified a recent statement by the US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Scott Miller, who on Tuesday reiterated that the Taliban should expect a response if they continue their attacks, referring to the increased Taliban-initiated fighting against the Afghan forces, especially in the last four weeks.
The US general made the remarks in a visit to the headquarters of the Afghan special operations forces along with acting Defense Minister Assadullah Khalid in northern Afghanistan.
“If the Taliban continues attacks then what they should expect is a response,” Miller said. “We need them to reduce the violence and with that reduction gives our political leadership on all sides an opportunity to determine the peaceful way forward.”
But on April 30, the Taliban on their website made comments cautioning Gen. Miller about making ‘irresponsible’ remarks.
“There is no doubt…this is the compulsion of American generals to give fake assurances to their demoralized domestic partners (Afghan govt), but the fact is that whatever the objectives behind such assertions may be, this will not help Afghanistan to resolve the problem, but instead it means fueling the war in this country,” the Taliban wrote.
“It was necessary if General Miller had focused his warning to those who are trying to sabotage the historic agreement which was signed by Miller’s elders,” the Taliban’s article reads, referring to the peace agreement signed between the US and the Taliban in Doha in February 29.
“Using the language of war in a peaceful environment will not benefit you. the mujahideen (Taliban) have saved themselves from the criticism of the world, but they do not frightened by anyone’s warnings,” Taliban said referring to General Miller’s recent warning about increase in level of violence.
US Forces spokesman responds:
“First, we recommend you listen carefully to his words, and do not twist them. We know how important the spoken word is among Afghans, so it is quite important his words are translated correctly,” reads a two-page document released on twitter by the US forces spokesman.
“Your leaders who have spoken to General Miller know exactly what he was saying, because he has consistently shared the same message with them. This moment is an opportunity for Afghanistan—for the people of Afghanistan to say clearly to all who will listen that they want peace,” reads the document.
The document said: ”All sides must also return to the political path. The release of Taliban and Government of Afghanistan prisoners should be accelerated to stem the spread of COVID-19 and to foster an environment for Intra-Afghan negotiations. Afghans should sit down now and begin talking about the future of Afghanistan together. The international community has called on the Government of Afghanistan to settle their political differences and begin Intra-Afghan negotiations. “
On the importance of the reduction in violence period(RIV), which happened over seven days in late February and concluded with the signing of the US-Taliban agreement, the document said: ‘Yet the sense of optimism Afghans and the friends of Afghanistan felt during the February 22-28 “reduction in violence” period has been lost in the increased violence. All sides should recall that period with pride. Taliban fighters and Afghan Security Forces spoke to each other at remote outposts. Very few shots were fired. Civilians were free to travel without the fear of being caught in violent crossfire or killed by roadside bombs.”
On the importance of the US-Taliban deal, the document says: ‘The people of Afghanistan dared to hope the conflict was near an end when the agreement was signed on February 29. Since that time, the world has witnessed not a decrease, but instead a drastic increase in violence. During those long negotiations there were written and spoken commitments. Some commitments are being observed, while others are not. We recognize the reduction of violence against cities and against Coalition forces. But we spoke of ALL sides reducing violence by as much as 80% to pave the way for peace talks. ‘
The document added: “In Doha, we agreed US and Coalition forces would continue to partner, support—and when necessary defend—our Afghan brothers and sisters. We take our responsibilities very seriously. I assure you General Miller understands the unique and historic opportunity we have worked hard to create for Afghanistan. To date, the US has not conducted a single offensive strike or operation since before the start of the reduction in violence period. “
Meanwhile, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid tweeted a response to USFOR-A: “Path to a resolution lies in the implementation of the Doha agreement. Do not harm the current environment with pointless & provocative statements. We are committed to our end, honor your own obligations.”
This comes as the Taliban have significantly increased their attacks on Afghan forces in the past several weeks despite calls by the international community for a reduction of violence and a ceasefire and for unity amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Afghan government figures reveal that at least 14 provinces have witnessed heavy battles between government forces and the Taliban over the last few weeks. Figures collected by TOLOnews indicate that at least 150 security force members have lost their lives in Taliban attacks in recent weeks.
The Office of the National Security Council this weekend said the Taliban has conducted an average of 55 attacks per day since the signing of the peace deal with the United States in Doha on February 29.
The ONSC spokesman Javid Faisal at a press conference said that the Taliban conducted 2,804 attacks from the beginning of March to April 19, adding the group “does not remain committed to the reconciliation process that will help the country to end decades of war.”