Taliban announce start of Al Farooq spring offensive

Today the Taliban announced the beginning of their yearly spring offensive, in an official statement released on their propaganda website, Voice of Jihad.

The Taliban statement, which was released in English and other languages, said that the “Al Farooq Jihadi spring operation” offensive will begin on May 3, and will target foreign and Afghan security forces, Afghan political and government officials, the Afghan High Peace Council, and anti-Taliban militias. The statement is attributed to “The Leadership Council of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” which is better known as the Quetta Shura.

“It must be stated that the primary target of Al-Farooq operation will be the foreign invaders, their advisors, their contractors and members of all associated military, intelligence and auxiliary departments,” the Taliban announcement said.

“And similarly, the high ranking officials of the stooge Kabul regime; members of Parliament; those associated with Ministries of Defense, Intelligence and Interior; members of the so called High Peace Council; Militia under the name of ‘Arbaki’ and all those people who work against the Mujahideen, toil to pave ground for the occupation of Afghanistan and become the cause for the strength of the invaders will also be targeted in Al-Farooq operation,” the statement continued.

The Taliban claimed they will employ “new and tested war tactics,” and that “top priority will be given to safeguarding the lives and wealth of civilians.”

“It is hoped that civilians stay away from the bases of invaders and their hirelings, their military convoys and refrain from going close to explosion sites as the enemy intentionally targets civilians to avenge the caused death/injury and attributes it to the Taliban,” the statement said.

Despite the Taliban’s claim that they seek to protect civilians, the Taliban continue to cause the vast majority of civilian casualties. According to statistics compiled by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and released in February, the Taliban were responsible for nearly 77 percent of the civilian deaths in the country in 2011, while Coalition and Afghan forces were responsible for just 14 percent.

Each spring, the Taliban have issued similar statements about their planned offensives, and the targets of the operations have also been similar. In an April 30, 2011 announcement of the Al Badar spring offensive, the Taliban said they would would focus on “military centers, places of gatherings, airbases, ammunition and logistical military convoys of the foreign invaders in all parts of the country.” The Taliban said that their tactics would include “group and martyrdom seeking attacks,” or suicide attacks and assaults; “group offensives,” or massed assaults; and “city attacks,” ambushes, and IED attacks.

The Taliban announcement today coincided with a complex suicide assault in Kabul that targeted a civilian compound frequented by foreign and UN personnel. Five Taliban fighters and five civilians were killed in the attack [see LWJ report, Taliban launch suicide assault in Kabul following Obama’s departure].

The Taliban launched today’s attack in Kabul just hours after President Obama left Afghanistan, where he had given a speech on “ending the war in Afghanistan” and called for negotiations with the Taliban. The Taliban have publicly rejected peace overtures in the past, most recently in an official statement released at Voice of Jihad on Jan. 27, and have refused to sever ties with al Qaeda.

Today’s Taliban announcement occurred three weeks after Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson, the top spokesman of the International Security Assistance Force, stated that ISAF sees no evidence of “cohesive action” by the Taliban to carry out a spring offensive. The Taliban conducted several coordinated attacks and assassinations of Afghan officials both before and after Jacobson made his statement [see LWJ report, Taliban suicide bombers kill 17 in attacks in south, west].

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • mike merlo says:

    “new and tested war tactics,” = what? More green on Blue, tunnels, Taliban use of drones, artillery and or rocket attacks on FOB’s & urban centers, chemicals, etc.,?

  • Devin Leonard says:

    Yeah, Yeah….great propaganda. Meanwhile our boys will be out there KATN against the Taliban and the Haqqani network with the 82nd, the Marines (Hoo-Raah) and our Spec Ops and drones!

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Devin, you do realize that we’re returning to basically the same strategy we had from 2004-2009 – small footprint with CT heavy focus. This didn’t work out so well for us or the Afghans. The Taliban took control of large areas of the country. I do hope the irony of this isn’t lost on all of the experts who derided the Bush administration’s strategy and yet are not supporting its return.

  • tim gregoire says:

    Bill the 2004 – 2009 bush strategy wasn’t a srategy at all, it was the unintended consequence of moving all theatre wide assetts to Iraq therefore leaving the taliban, the haqqanni network the ability to regroup. The taliban are going to pull out all the stops this year, and its going to be ugly. Once we do move to a full ct stance, places in the east will become havens for the tb and Aq. Iam not sure there is a winning strategy with the tb, Aq yes, but the tb are too resourceful and there best resource is time.

  • Tom Kelleher says:

    I don’t know if it’s a return to old strategy so much as a way to ramp down our presence…and call it what you will.
    Unless one has real enthusiasm about a never-ending mission, was there EVER another way out? If Dubya showed any prescience in his tactics years before, perhaps it was only in recognizing he’d ventured down yet another rabbit hole…I don’t think the irony lays in not ‘giving him credit’ for this.
    To the contrary, I believe he is often given credit for leaving others to clean up after his misadventures.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Only a minor disagreement here, but I fundamentally agree with what you are saying. The Bush admin was going to keep a small footprint in Afghanistan; this was Rumsfeld’s brainchild. Iraq may have diverted some resources and later prevented a ramp-up, but regardless for the reasons, this is the “strategy” we were left with.
    If losing is the way out, then sure, we are on that path. I just wish people would call this what it is, and not urinate on my leg and tell me it’s raining. I current Afghan “strategy” has been devised to mask our retreat. Let’s not call this a victory, or a responsible end to the war, or cleaning up a Bush misadventure.

  • Tom Kelleher says:

    “Let’s not call this a victory, or a responsible end to the war, or cleaning up a Bush misadventure.”
    Well, if you feel like your leg is being peed upon, imagine the frustration of the Obama administration…or any administration left to clean up after another….in this case, after TWO wars. There isn’t a pretty way to ‘save face’, is there? The easiest thing to do would be to let the follow-on administration take the heat for an ill-considered mission; as Kennedy (inadvertently) did, as LBJ did, as Bush did. I believe I have far more admiration for the individual brave enough to take that heat from the armchair pundits and talk-radio hosts….as opposed to honorably kicking the can down the road even further (hey, at least I kept the game going!).
    I think the problem is the simplistic notion of ‘losing’ here….when you cannot clearly define what ‘winning’ might be like. What would ‘winning’ be, Bill? Would it be ten or twenty more years of trying to erase ignorance and hatred through the use of Hellfire missiles? I can’t really picture the victors in that.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    If the administration is “frustrated” then perhaps they should put on their big boy pants. They wanted the job, and they got it. Whining about Bush, etc. is kinda childish at this point, especially when they’ve had 3+ years to put their own stamp on Afghanistan.
    We’re being told there won’t be an AQ sanctuary in Afghanistan after this ends. Do you really believe that? When AQ already has safe havens in Kunar and Nuristan and operates in other areas of the country, while we still have 100K plus troops in country? How do you think that will work out when were just down to a CT mission with 20-30K troops? And how does this plan deal with Pakistan (my apologies for that overly broad question)?
    If you want to end it, fine, then end it, but let’s be honest about what you are leaving behind. Washing your hands of what you perceive to be a bad deal isn’t a solution.

  • Paul D says:

    Agree with Bill.
    Once we leave we have not dealt with Alq sanctuaries in Afghan/Pakistan(AKA Mordor) and its hatred ideology.
    We will still treat Pakistan and Saudi as allies when they are clearly enemies!
    Please watch Pat Condell You tube videos on Saudi Arabia and Islam re the true id of modern day trouble in the world.

  • mark says:

    iran and the packeys are helping all of them and we give the packs money what a joke

  • Neo says:

    I am curious to see how this season’s fighting season shapes up. The fighting season this year does get off to a fairly late start. I’m not sure if it was the weather or if the Taliban is a bit tired. NATO has fewer forces in the field this year and Afghan forces will be expected to step up. How much push the Taliban gets this year is another question? From a long term strategic perspective the Taliban needs to wait for U.S. forces to draw down of their own accord. In the shorter term keeping momentum may be a problem for the Taliban. The security pressure on them may now be less, but can they capitalize? The Taliban won’t have Pashtoon nationalism driving public support this time around, unlike 2005-2007. Just how much support is forthcoming from the Pakistani ISI is an open question as well. It’s not a question of if the ISI will support the Taliban but how much resources will be dedicated toward support. Not everyone in the Pakistani security apparatus loves the Taliban.


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