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Military ramps up counter-insurgency raids amid Doha peace talks

AT News

KABUL: Amid painstaking negotiations in Qatar to broker a peace deal, the Ministry of Defense has said the military is ramping up operations to counter an increase in Taliban attacks which are inflicting heavy losses to the belligerents.

Defense authorities have said that a bevy of counterinsurgency raids over past two days across the country have killed more than 51 Taliban militants. Defense Ministry spokesperson Fawad Aman on Sunday confirmed that 51 militants have been killed in the aftermath of 13 clearance operations and 12 airstrikes against terrorist hideouts in 10 provinces including Badghis, Balkh, Helmand, Kunduz, Nimroz, Nangarhar, Kandahar, Farah and Ghazni.

The military is ratcheting up counterterrorism offensives amid peace negotiations between the United States and the Taliban in Qatar. Last session between the negotiating fronts was held on January 20th when a meeting had taken place between the U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan peace, Zalmay Khalilzad, and general commander of US forces and NATO in Afghanistan, Gen. Scott Miller, with the Taliban negotiators led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Doha.

Repetitively attempting to own the peace process, the Afghan government has said that security forces will continue to pummel Taliban sanctuaries until the belligerents abandon their hostilities.

Taliban also stick to their guns regarding an increase in their attacks to target Afghan forces. The militants have said they have ambushed a security checkpoint on Sunday night in Kunduz province. Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid in a statement said that 10 security forces were killed and three more injured in that attack – which also yielded to the capture of a huge cache of weapons. In another statement, the Taliban claimed to have killed 8 Afghan security forces in an ambush on an Afghan military convoy in Balkh province.

The exacerbation of violence takes place amid a two-day pause of US-Taliban negotiations in Doha.

A military affairs expert, Atiqullah Amarkhail, said that a ceasefire has been reached and the war will continue as will peace negotiations. “It’s not likely that the Taliban accept to cease their fighting,” he said. He heaped scorn on the increase in civilian casualties in the face of government’s airstrikes.

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