Taliban’s offensive underlines need for peace process: US
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): The Taliban’s announcement regarding the start of a spring offensive has not come as a surprise, State Department spokesman said on Tuesday.
“That announcement obviously came as no surprise. We always see the announcement of the spring fighting season,” Mark Toner told reporters at his daily news conference.
He added: “We are preparing, as we have been, to assist the government in defending against the Taliban…we have been working with Afghan forces to improve their capability to fight and push back.”
The US, Toner continued, was working closely with President Ashraf Ghani and Afghan security forces to preserve the gains they had made over the last 14 years.
NATO’s Resolute Support Mission would continue to support and build up the Afghan forces’ capacity to provide for the security of the country, the deputy spokesman promised.
Recognizing the ongoing security challenges, the decided to keep 5,500 American troops in Afghanistan beyond 2016 in order to continue to carry out that essential mission on the ground, Toner said.
Counterterrorism operations against remnants of Al-Qaida, Daesh and other terrorist groups would continue, he explained.
The Taliban announcement, the official maintained, underscored the need for the start of a peace process that was Afghan-led and Afghan-owned.
“That was a central message of Secretary (John Kerry) when he visited there this past week. It just underscores also that this conflict is not going to be resolved on the battlefield,” Toner concluded.
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