The Afghan Taliban announced today that this year’s “spring operations” will begin on April 24, and, like previous years, the main targets will be the “foreign occupiers” and “the stooge regime,” or Afghan government.
This year’s spring offensive is called Azm, which “means resolve or determination,” the Taliban said in a statement released on their official propaganda website, Voice of Jihad. The statement was released by the “Leading Council of Islamic Emirate,” which is better known as the Quetta Shura. Last’ year’s offensive was called Khaibar (or Khyber), which was named after a battle that targeted Jews in Saudi Arabia in 629.
While the Taliban acknowledged that most US and Coalition forces have withdrawn from Afghanistan, the jihadist group said that the US and NATO are still conducting attacks and are directing the Afghan government.
“The foreign occupiers are still carrying out drone strikes and night operations against the civilian people and have absolute control over the military and fighting command and control system of the heterogeneous regime under the so called ‘Bilateral Security Agreement,'” the Taliban stated.
The Taliban said that the targets of Azm have been selected “by the leadership of the Islamic Emirate and the professional and skilled specialists of [its] ‘Military Commission.’”
The primary targets are “the foreign occupiers, especially their permanent military bases, their intelligence and diplomatic centers, officials of the stooge regime [Afghan government], their military constellations, especially their intelligence, interior ministry and defense ministry officials and other pernicious individuals.”
The jihadist group will utilize what it claimed are “advanced fighting techniques,” including “Martyrdom seeking attacks for the devastation of infidels, infiltration attacks among the enemy ranks, attacking the huge and relatively fortified centers of the enemy with heavy and long-range missiles, confrontational attacks against the already demoralized mercenary forces of the enemy and guerrilla attacks in all major cities.”
“Martyrdom seeking attacks” refer to suicide bombings and “infiltration attacks among the enemy ranks” describe the green-on-blue and green-on-green attacks, or insider attacks, where members of Afghan security forces turn on Coalition forces or their own personnel. There have been two green-on-blue attacks recorded so far this year, resulting in the deaths of four Coalition personnel.
The Taliban reiterated its call for Afghan officials and security personnel to turn on the Coalition and government and to join the ranks of the jihadist group.
“We once again call upon all the military and civilian officials and workers of the stooge regime to depart the invaders for fulfilling their Islamic and Afghani obligation and to unite with their own Muslim people. Mujahidin are ready as ever to provide secure and peaceful living conditions for all the officials and individuals who quit the enemy ranks,” the Taliban said.
In the past, the Taliban have devoted significant effort into attempts to kill NATO troops and foreigners by infiltrating the Afghan security forces. Mullah Omar affirmed this strategy in a statement released on Aug. 16, 2012, when he claimed that the group had “cleverly infiltrated in the ranks of the enemy according to the plan given to them last year ,” and he urged government officials and security personnel to defect to the Taliban as a matter of religious duty. Omar also noted that the Taliban had created the “Call and Guidance, Luring and Integration” department, “with branches … now operational all over the country,” to encourage defections. [See LWJ report, report, Green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan: the data, and Threat Matrix report, Mullah Omar addresses green-on-blue attacks.]
In additional to detailing its targets, the Taliban also sought to deflect criticism that its operations harm civilians. The United Nations has routinely put the blame for civilian casualties at the feet of the Taliban; each year roughly 80 percent of civilian casualties have been attributed to Taliban operations.
The Taliban said that “top priority will be given to safeguarding and protecting the lives and properties of the civilian people.”
“And those Mujahidin who are negligent and careless in preserving the lives and properties of the civilian people and their operations result in the civilian losses or casualties, will be panelized [sic, penalized] according to Jihadi and Sharia rules and regulations. Similarly, consistent with its policies, the Islamic Emirate has never and will never target religious and other educational institutions like mosques, madrassas, schools, universities, health centers like clinics and hospitals, public buildings and other projects of public welfare,” the Taliban continued.
Despite these claims, the Taliban routinely launch attacks at locations such as mosques, madrassas, schools, universities, health clinics, hospitals, and public buildings.
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