In a blow to potential peace talks, the Taliban in Afghanistan on Wednesday have announced yet another annual spring offensive dubbed ''Al-Khandaq'' (trench).
Zabihullah Mujahed, the Taliban spokesman, in a social media post cited four main "reasons", one of which a clear reference to an aerial raid by security forces on a religious school in a Taliban-controlled area in the Kunduz province earlier this month that caused multiple civilian casualties and killed scores of top Taliban commanders, according to local media and officials.
The Afghan officials insist the air raid only killed suspected militants. The Taliban armed group and local media outlets have however said that over 100 civilians were killed.
“[...] Now mosques, religious educational centers and their innocent students have been added to the list and the indiscriminate bombardment of a religious madrassa in Dast-i-Archi district of Kunduz province is an instance at hand”, the Taliban spokesman said.
According to the Afghan military, an alleged gathering of the Taliban’s “Quetta Shura” -- one of the Taliban's main Pakistan-based committees -- had been hit during the air raid this morning in Dasht-e-Archi district.
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has twice extended an olive branch to the Taliban since February, but the calls have been rejected by the armed rebels.
The Taliban have also singled out the U.S. President Donald Trump’s new war strategy as a reason for their offensive.
“Besides sustaining the ongoing ‘illegitimate occupation’, the newly adopted war strategy of Trump has been ruthlessly implemented in the villages and rural areas against our oppressed Afghan people for the past nine months. Thousands of additional foreign forces are being deployed inside Afghanistan and they are supplied with new devastating weapons and vast military authorities,” the group stated.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Copyright Andolu Ajansi