ANDSF Braces for Attacks on Major Cities, Highways, Border Areas

Maj. Gen. Hibatullah Alizai, the commander of the Special Operations Corps, said that suppressing the Taliban is the top priority of the forces and that “strong belts” have been created for the protection of big cities, highways and border towns.

Alizai said there was a vast presence of Pakistani Taliban, especially Punjabis, in recent attacks by the Taliban, and that “hundreds” of Taliban fighters have been killed in Afghan forces operations.

He stressed the need to retake the districts that have fallen to the Taliban.

He said that political, regional and social issues are behind the evacuation of dozens of districts by Afghan forces. He added that the issue will be investigated.

The general said that the Taliban wants to attack major cities but the Afghan forces are ready to thwart such plans.

“Our main goal is to inflict as many casualties on the enemy as possible. Besides that, our goal is to protect major cities, highways and key border towns that are important for our major cities and the country,” he said.

Alizai, who returned from operations in Ghazni and Laghman on Saturday evening, said that foreign Taliban and al Qaeda fighters have a presence among the Taliban.

“Pakistani Taliban are mostly seen these days and those Taliban who belong to Punjab and those who even have Pakistan arm ID cards. The number of Afghan Taliban is dwindling,” he said.

He added that at least 10,000 members of commando forces are engaged in suppressing the Taliban across the country and that their number will increase over time.

However, there is criticism over how security in the country has been handled:

“If they had paid attention to the provinces, we would not be in the situation that we are today,” said Daud Ghafoori, a Senator.

In the last two months, at least 120 districts have fallen to the Taliban, mostly in northern and northeastern Afghanistan.