May 11, 2018
The leader of the U.S. Central Command says the Taliban in Afghanistan “cannot win militarily” despite an uptick in attacks launched by the militants.
General Joseph Votel made the remark during a visit to Tajikistan’s capital, Dushanbe, on May 11.
“The message I would send to the Taliban is that they cannot win militarily. The international coalition, led by the United States, is focused on providing the military pressure, in conjunction with social pressure and diplomatic pressure, that will force them to come to the table,” Votel said.
Votel also urged the Taliban to take advantage of the “very generous offer” put forward by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
Ghani has offered the Taliban unconditional peace talks accompanied by a cease-fire, recognition of them as a political party, and the release of some prisoners, among other incentives.
NATO is also open to talks between Kabul and the Taliban on the future role of the international community in the country. The Taliban has insisted that international troops must leave.
Votel’s comments come amid fresh reports of a Taliban attack on a security post in Farah Province. Violence has spiked in Afghanistan since the Taliban announced last month the start of its annual spring offensive.
Mohammad Naser Mehri, spokesman for the provincial governor, said the attack took place on May 10 in Bala Buluk district. The gunbattle lasted several hours and at least seven security forces were killed, he said.
Another local official, however, gave a much higher death toll.
A member of the provincial council, Abdul Samad Salehi, said the attack was massive and killed 22 and wounded two. He said the Taliban “arrested” three security forces.
There was no immediate response from the Taliban.
Farah Province has been a key battleground for the Taliban for months.
With reporting by AP and Reuters
Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.
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