At least twenty five Taliban insurgents were killed or wounded during the air strikes in southern Helmand (province of Afghanistan), the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said Monday. The three local Taliban commanders killed during the air strikes have been identified as Mullah Khaliqdad, Mullah Musafir, and Khayal Mohammad, MoD added. The air strikes targeted the hideouts of the insurgents that led to the casualties to the Taliban insurgents and four hideouts of the group were destroyed in total. The anti-government armed militant groups have not commented regarding the report so far. Helmand remains one of the most volatile provinces in southern Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001 where terrorist related incidents are frequently reported from its various districts.
BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) leaders strongly condemned terrorist attacks on innocent Afghan nationals on Monday. The countries, adopting the Xiamen Declaration, agreed to strengthen cooperation against a range of terror groups. A statement issued by the participants deplored “all terrorist attacks worldwide” and condemned terrorism “in all its forms and manifestations wherever committed and by whomsoever” adding that there can be no justification for any act of terrorism. The statement said nations should unite to fight the groups in accordance with the principles of international law, but emphasized the importance of not interfering in the sovereign affairs of individual states. The ninth BRICS summit chaired by Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed the need for immediate cessation of violence in Afghanistan and reaffirmed their support to the people of Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s foreign minister Khawajah Asif on Saturday reacted at President Ghani’s remarks regarding Kabul’s readiness to hold peace talks with Pakistan. Asif told reporters “Pakistan’s position on Afghanistan is very clear: we want to see peace and stability in the country.” In his message on the first day of Eid Al-Adha, President Ghani said the Afghan government is fully prepared for the peace talks and that negotiations with Pakistan for peace is on the agenda of the government.Previously, he Afghan officials have been criticizing Pakistan for allowing the Taliban and the notorious Haqqani terrorist network to use its soil for planning and coordinating attacks in Afghanistan, calling it as one of the major barriers in forcing the militant groups to participate in talks.
Speaking to reporters Thursday at the Pentagon, U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis says he has signed orders to deploy additional American troops to Afghanistan beyond the 11,000 currently serving in the war-torn country. These additional troops will mostly advise and ‘enable the Afghan forces to fight more effectively’ against the Taliban and more than a dozen terror groups in Afghanistan. News of the new deployment orders comes a day after the Pentagon announced that approximately 11,000 U.S. troops are currently serving in Afghanistan, not 8,400 troops, as the Defense Department had previously reported. Officials have suggested that Secretary Mattis is looking to deploy about 4,000 additional troops to Afghanistan to fulfill the commander’s needs on the ground.
Yesterday President Ghani stated that “We are ready for comprehensive political talks: peace with Pakistan is in our national agenda”, going over the last diplomatic difficulties between the two countries. Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said on Saturday that Islamabad is willing to join hands with Kabul to see peace and stability in the region. Diplomatic ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan have been rocky in the past few months. The relationship between the two hyphenated neighbours has been on downward slide since an uptick in Taliban violence in Afghanistan. In July last year, President Ghani had said that the peace initiatives taken by Kabul with Islamabad were not successful as the latter differentiated between good and bad terrorists “in practice”.
In the Afghan operations against the Taliban it is reported that the insurgents in southern Kandahar and southeastern Paktika provinces have suffered casualties. The Ministry of Defense (MoD) in a statement said at least 9 insurgents were killed and 4 others were wounded in Kandahar. Always according to MoD, at least 3 insurgents were killed and 2 others were wounded during another operation conducted in Paktika province. This operations are conducted with a view of clearance and counter-terrorism to suppress the insurgency of the anti-government armed militant groups.The anti-government armed militant groups including the Taliban insurgents have not commented regarding the reports so far.