The US special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, began a tour that includes Qatar, Afghanistan and the region, while about 20 security personnel and their loyalists were killed in clashes and raids in northern Afghanistan, coinciding with the Taliban’s announcement of its control over 5 areas in different parts of the country.
And the US State Department said – in a statement – that Khalilzad began a tour at the head of a delegation that includes officials from the National Security Council, the Ministry of Defense and the US Agency for International Development, where he will visit Kabul, Doha and other destinations in the region.
In Doha, Ambassador Khalilzad will continue to encourage both sides to make tangible progress toward a political settlement that protects the gains made in the past two decades, according to the statement.
The statement also indicated that Khalilzad will meet with a number of leaders in the region, to discuss the peace process in Afghanistan and the possibility of enhancing regional trade and development that peace may bring.
Battles and raids
Al-Jazeera correspondent quoted a source in the Afghan Interior as saying that a police commander and 8 security personnel were killed in the clashes, as a result of an attack by the movement after midnight from several axes towards the center of Golga district in Baghlan (north) , and the attack continued until Saturday morning.
On the other hand, provincial council member Ahmad Javed Majdidi and parliament member Zabihullah Atiq said that 13 pro-government forces were killed and others wounded in an accidental raid in Kohistan district in Badakhshan province (north) on Friday evening.
Atiq – who represents the province in Parliament – stated that the pro-government forces led by Commander Ashur were returning to their base after an operation against Taliban militants, when the planes attacked them “by mistake”, in which the commander was also killed.
Yesterday, Friday, there was conflicting numbers of civilian casualties during a government air strike on the Taliban in Nahr al-Siraj district of Helmand province (southern country); But a government official confirmed that they were unarmed Taliban fighters, and they wanted to destroy the fallen military checkpoints.
control and strategic retreat
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said – in a series of tweets – that the movement had taken control of at least 5 districts in the southern Zabul and Uruzgan provinces, as well as the central and eastern Ghazni provinces.
On the other hand, the Ministry of Interior rejected this news, and its spokesman, Tariq Arian, told Anadolu Agency that the security forces had only made a strategic retreat in Zabul.
Earlier, the Taliban said that it had taken control of 4 districts in Maidan Wardak (central), Baghlan and Laghman (east), while Afghan officials described the withdrawal of their forces from those districts as a strategic retreat in order to save civilian casualties.
Last month’s stats
In another context, the Afghan National Security Council announced that the Taliban carried out 1,455 attacks last May, and that most of the attacks led to the death and injury of civilians, stressing that the movement intensified its attacks as foreign forces began to withdraw from the country.
He added that security forces thwarted 63 attacks with explosives by the movement across the country during the past month.
The council noted that 63 civilians were killed and 126 wounded in attacks carried out by the Taliban last week.
And last Tuesday, the US military announced the completion of about 44% of the process of withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan.