Afghanistan's situation will change in 6 months, says president Ashraf Ghani
Afghanistan president Ashraf Ghani has said the violence-hit country's situation will see a change within the next six months as he emphasised that the security of cities is his government's priority. Addressing a virtual cabinet meeting, Ghani said on Sunday the Taliban has become "more cruel and more oppressive" in the last two decades.
"They have no wish for peace, for prosperity, or progress; we want peace but they want surrender (subdued people and government). They will not engage in meaningful negotiations unless the situation changes on the battlefield; therefore, we should have a clear stance. For this, there is a need for a countrywide mobilization," Ghani was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Ghani's comments came as Afghan forces fought and bombed Taliban fighters and positions on Sunday as the group mounted offensives in major cities across the country. The Taliban also attacked the airport in Kandahar, the second-largest city of Afghanistan and the former stronghold of the insurgents, with at least three rockets overnight with the group's spokesperson saying that the aim was to thwart airstrikes conducted by Afghan government forces.
"Kandahar airport was targeted by us because the enemy was using it as a centre to conduct airstrikes against us," Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesperson, told Reuters.
Authorities suspended flights out of Kandahar after the rockets hit the runway partially damaging it. The flight operations were restored later.
Also watch: Afghanistan forces destroy Taliban hideouts in Kandahar airstrike
Taliban fighters have also attacked at least two other provincial capitals, including nearby Lashkar Gah in Helmand and Herat in the province of the same name. The government has said that hundreds of Taliban terrorists have been killed by the Afghanistan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) across the country. At least 200 hundred Taliban terrorists were killed in an airstrike by a B-52 plane of the US air force in the Herat province.
Afghanistan security forces have lead operations and counter-attacks against the Taliban in Ghazni, Kandahar, Farah, Jowzjan, Balkh, Samangan, Helmand, Takhar, Kunduz, Baghlan, Kabul and Kapisa provinces.
Ghani's remarks also came on the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) said in a report that 1,677 civilians have been killed and 3,644 injured in the first six months of this year in 1,594 different security incidents. "Important to note that the total number of civilian casualties in the first six months of 2020 was 2,957, including 1,213 killed and 1,744 injured," AIHRC said in a report. "A comparison of the above mentioned figures shows that civilian casualties have increased by 80 per cent in the first six months of 2021 compared with the first six months of 2020," it added.
The Taliban has captured dozens of districts, seized more land and taken control of key border crossings with neighbouring countries as US and Nato troops pull out of the country.