The Taliban has announced its annual “spring offensive”, but this one has a twist. Rather than being aimed at taking ground in Afghanistan their new plan is to target not only Government forces but any foreign troops still in the country. It seems that the Islamist group is feeling particularly emboldened following a successful attack on a government base two weeks ago.
In that sneak attack, Taliban terrorists dressed themselves as government troops and using a military vehicle gained access to the base where they slaughtered troops that were leaving a base Mosque following Friday prayers. The suicide squad then detonated bombs which killed and wounded several other members of the Army along with themselves. In total the attack left over 140 murdered.
The Taliban said it will target foreign forces with “conventional attacks, guerrilla warfare, complex martyrdom attacks, [and] insider attacks. The enemy will be targeted, harassed, killed or captured until they abandon their last posts,” according to a statement quoted by AFP.
Every year the Taliban launches a new offensive, but the terrorist group said this one would be different. They say they’re also planning a political approach. “Hence, keeping the evolving situation in mind, this year’s Mansouri Operations will differ from previous ones in nature and will be conducted with a twin-tracked political and military approach,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said, told the AP.
The Taliban plans on building institutions in areas under its control and establishing what he called “social justice and development” mechanisms. They also boasted about the government currently controlling slightly more than half the country, according to a February report issued by Washington. That paper said the Afghan government had control or influence over just 52 percent of Afghanistan’s 407 districts last year, down from 63.4 percent previously.
But the Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry seemed relatively unfazed, saying the threats are “not something new. We will target, kill, defeat and suppress the Taliban…all across the country,” acting ministry spokesman Najib Danish told AFP.
The Taliban announcement comes just days after US Defense Secretary James Mattis visited Kabul, warning that 2017 would be “another tough year” for Afghan forces. Around 8,400 US troops are currently in the country, along with another 5,000 from NATO allies. The troops are largely conducting a training, advice, and assist mission aimed at supporting Afghan forces.