Yearender: Afghan gov't secures more areas in war on insurgency in 2019

KABUL, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- The embattled government of Afghanistan, contrary to past years has made headway in the war on insurgency as the government forces have expelled the armed insurgents from 11 districts throughout the outgoing year to expand its sovereignty.
Afghan security forces, according to the country's defense ministry has changed defensive attitude to aggressive one, pursuing the armed insurgents elsewhere in the country.

In crackdowns on the armed opposition groups, the government forces have recaptured Wardoj, Yamgan and Kuran-wa-Munjan districts in the northern Badakhshan province in September and October and thus ended the Taliban outfit's nearly four years rule over the said districts, forcing the Taliban fighters to flee or surrender, according to the Defense Ministry.
According to the ministry's statements, the security forces have also recaptured Dasht-e-Archi district in the northern Kunduz province, Bilcheragh district in Faryab, Baharak, Darqad and Khawaja Bahaudin districts in Takhar, Dahna-e-Ghori district in Baghlan, Marja district in Helmand and Jaghato district in the relatively restive Ghazni province in 2019.
Taliban outfit's desperate attempts to overrun a province or a big city in 2019 have been thwarted and the militants' storms to capture the western Farah city, eastern Ghazni's provincial capital the Ghazni city, the northern Kunduz and Baghlan's provincial capital Pul-e-Khumri have been repulsed.
Keeping on military pressures have dismantled the main base of the Islamic Sate (IS) group in Achin district of the eastern Nangarhar province, forcing more than 1,450 loyalists of the hardliner outfit including women and children to surrender throughout the outgoing year.
However, the security challenge like previous years has remained high in 2019 as 2,563 civilians had been killed and 5,676 others wounded in the first nine months of this year, according to a report of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) released in October.
The casualties of the government forces and the Taliban fighters are not known; while from the U.S.-led coalition forces 25 service members including 23 Americans have been killed in Afghanistan in 2019, according to iCasualties, a website tracking the coalition forces' casualties.
Afghan acting Interior Minister Massoud Andarabi in his speech at a gathering on Dec. 12 asserted that casualties of security forces had declined by 10 percent in 2019 but didn't reveal the exact figure.
In spite of government forces' efforts to shrink the Taliban grip, the militant group is still in control of vast territory mostly in rural areas.

Parallel to military pressures, the government has also pushed for peace with the Taliban outfit to find a negotiated solution to Afghanistan's protracted war.
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani who offered unconditional talks with the Taliban in 2018, announced a seven-point peace in October to persuade talks among the stakeholders in Afghan affairs.
The new peace plan, which underlines for Afghan gov't-led peace talks, includes dialogue with the United States, Taliban outfit, regional countries and international partners to find a comprehensive solution to the country's lingering crisis.
However, the Taliban outfit has spurned the government offer for negotiation, saying no talks would be held with Afghan government in the presence of foreign forces in the country.
Taliban outfit formally initiated dialogue with the United States in October 2018 and was close to conclude but broke down following a car bomb in Kabul on Sept. 5, which claimed 11 lives including an American soldier.
Nevertheless, both sides resumed the talks on Dec. 7 but again suspended in the wake of two deadly truck bomb explosions that targeted the main U.S. military base in Bagram, 50 km north of Kabul on Dec. 11, which left eight people dead and wounded over 70 others, all civilians living nearby.
The Taliban outfit later claimed responsibility of the attacks.
Amid security challenges and peace efforts, Afghan government held the country's fourth presidential polls since the collapse of Taliban rule in 2001 on Sept. 28 and the outcome expected to be announced by the end of the year.
President Ghani has flayed the peace talks in the absence of Afghan government, noting "the fate of Afghanistan would be decided in this country" and observing ceasefire should be a precondition for talks.



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