Taliban issue veiled threat in wake of US airstrikes in Helmand

The Taliban on Sunday issued a veiled threat to the US Forces in Afghanistan after accusing the United States of having violated the Doha agreement by carrying out airstrikes in Helmand last week.

In a statement issued by the group’s spokesman on Twitter, the Taliban said: “American forces have violated the Doha agreement in various forms by carrying out excessive airstrikes following the new developments in Helmand province.”

The Doha agreement was signed in February between the Taliban and the US and was conditions-based.

In their statement Sunday, the Taliban said, according to the agreement, the “American forces are prohibited from carrying out airstrikes or targeting anyone in areas other than combat zones or during active fighting”.

The group stated that over the past few days, drone and other fighter aircraft have carried out strikes in a number of areas in Helmand and in Farah and other provinces “which are all a direct and clear violation of the Doha agreement.”

The Taliban stated that “all contents of the US-Islamic Emeriate agreement are unambiguous, but the opposite side violated its commitment on numerous occasions, are engaging in provocative actions and bombing non-combat zones.”

In conclusion, the group stated, “all responsibility and consequences from continuation of such actions shall fall squarely on the shoulders of the American side.”

On Monday last week, US-Forces Afghanistan spokesman Colonel Sonny Leggett confirmed American forces had conducted several targeted strikes in Helmand over the previous two days to defend Afghan National Defense and Security Forces who had come under attack by the Taliban.

Leggett said this move had been in accordance with the US-Taliban agreement and that USFOR-A had and will continue to provide support in defense of the ANDSF under attack by the Taliban.

This announcement was immediately followed by US-Forces Afghanistan Commander, General Scott Miller saying that “the Taliban need to immediately stop their offensive actions in Helmand Province and reduce their violence around the country. It is not consistent with the US-Taliban agreement and undermines the ongoing Afghan Peace Talks.”

Last Sunday the Taliban launched coordinated attacks in various parts of the province, including Lashkargah, the provincial capital.

Fighting waged for days and thousands of Afghans were forced to flee their homes.

The Taliban’s attack meanwhile came amid peace talks in Doha between the Afghan negotiating team and the Taliban. No actual progress has yet been made, despite talks having started more than a month ago.