Taliban warn US against ‘interference’ in Afghan affairs

The Taliban have issued a “warning” against “US interference” in Afghanistan as the militants continue their push in several provinces amid a vow by Afghan officials that “resistance” will persist.

“We are warning against the US interference in Afghanistan,” said the spokesperson for the Taliban Political Office on Sunday as quoted in a report by Al Jazeera news network, emphasizing that no intra-Afghan ceasefire agreement had been reached.

The unidentified Taliban official further accused the government in Kabul of escalating current tensions across the country by launching military operations in several provinces in an effort to ward off massive onslaughts by the militant group.

The remarks came a day after American B-52 bombers and C-130 Specter gunships flew into Afghanistan from an airbase in Qatar and conducted airstrikes against Taliban positions around key Afghan cities of Kandahar, Herat and Lashkar Gah in Helmand Province to hinder their advances in the strategic cities.

Citing “American defense sources,” the UK-based daily The Times reported that the US has “every intention” to continue with the airstrikes following the total withdrawal of its military forces from Afghanistan by August 31.

The daily also underlined that the Afghan air force still remains heavily reliant on US-supplied aircraft, which are now left without spare parts and trained technicians following the departure of US contractors from the country.

While there has been no confirmation of the airstrikes by the Taliban militants, Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Fawad Aman declared in a Twitter message on Saturday that the US B-52 bombers carried out airstrikes on the militants in the capital of the northern Jawzjan province, insisting that they inflicted significant damage on the insurgents.

Despite the bombing, however, the Taliban have continued their military advances on multiple fronts, overrunning a number of provincial capitals and aggressively pushing back the demoralized Afghan forces.

The latest Afghan city captured by the militants was Taloqan, the capital of the northern province of Takhar, which was overrun on Sunday afternoon. It became the third major provincial center to fall to the Taliban in one day, according to local reports.

Earlier in the day, the strategic hub of the northeastern province of Kunduz was seized by the militant group, before it pushed into other key provincial cities, sending shockwaves across the country.

The Taliban also captured the provincial capital of Sar-e-Pol province.

Afghan senator blames Washington for current crisis

Afghan officials have promised to resist the Taliban’s push to take over the country, with some blaming the United States for the deteriorating security situation.

Deputy Speaker of the Afghan Senate Mohammad Alam Izedyar insisted on Sunday that Washington’s policy of concurrently recognizing the Taliban and the Afghan government had instigated the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan, pointing out that the Doha “peace” agreement with the militants and the Kabul-Washington security pact were signed on the same day.

“From one side, they signed a security agreement with the Afghan government while on the other, they signed an agreement with the Taliban and recognized two [opposing] parties in Afghanistan. That was the start of the new crisis in Afghanistan,” Izedyar said during a legislative session on supporting Afghan forces, according to the local Tolo News outlet.

“Even if the Taliban captures Afghanistan militarily, it will not mean sovereignty, it will not mean stability. The war will continue. Resistance will continue,” the senator further underlined at the event, during which some participants stressed the need for both sides to return to peace negotiations.

Reports of war crimes, images of killed children grip nation

The developments came amid mounting reports of “war crimes,” human rights violations and civilian casualties during clashes between Afghan government forces and the Taliban as the war spreads to urban, populated areas.

In one instance, TV footage showed children in the city of Taloqan, the capital of the northern province of Takhar, lying on the ground with blood-stained faces and reportedly killed in rocket attacks, Tolo News reported on Sunday.

It cited the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission as saying that the Taliban had committed “war crimes” in Malistan district in Ghazni.

According to the report, although the Taliban have not reacted to the allegations, the human rights commission insisted that there are many reports of war crimes, torture, and human rights violations by the militant group in areas under their control.

“The Taliban has deliberately and with ‘full brutality’ killed 27 civilians, including a woman, in Malistan district, and 10 more have been wounded,” said Zabihullah Farhang, the commission’s chief media officer.

Many Afghan interpreters and security agents who had assisted US-led troops during their 20-year occupation of the country have also become prime targets of Taliban militants, who regard them as traitors.

While Washington has pledged to evacuate or help resettle thousands of Afghan citizens who have collaborated with US forces, it has so far evacuated less than one percent of them, according to press reports.

Previously, other watchdog organizations have accused the Taliban of committing war crimes in areas under the group’s control in Spin Boldak district in Kandahar province and in Faryab province.

The Taliban’s speedy military advancements have also prompted global concerns among many international human rights organizations that have sounded the alarm about the future of Afghans.

The 2001 invasion of Afghanistan ousted the Taliban from power, but the ensuing war and occupation have steadily worsened the security situation in the country.

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