The Taliban announced the start of its “spring offensive” and named it after Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, the previous emir who was killed by the US in a drone strike in Pakistan in May 2016. Like previous spring offensives, the Taliban said that military operations would focus on foreign forces as well as Afghan security forces. Additionally, the Taliban said that it would focus on governance in “areas that have been cleansed from the enemy.”
In a statement released on Voice of Jihad today, the Taliban declared the “the Inauguration of the Spring Offensive ‘Operation Mansouri.’”
Under Mansour’s leadership, the Taliban “gained various decisive victories, annihilated highway robbers and impious people, foiled various seditions and intrigues, leaped forward in the political and social arenas, humiliated various foreign powers compelling them to leave our land, and achieve copious other proud milestones.”
Like previous years, the Taliban outlined its goals for the coming year’s spring offensive. In the “political sphere,” the Taliban said that “particular attention will be paid to establishing mechanisms for social justice and development,” “institutions will be erected,” and “special dawah [proselytizing Islam] and propagation apparatus will be set up” in areas under Taliban control.
As of late March 2017, the Taliban claimed it controls or contests 211 of Afghanistan’s 400 odd districts.
In the “military sphere,” The Taliban said that “the enemy will be targeted, harassed, killed, or captured” in areas not under its control.
Additionally, “The main focus of Operation Mansouri will be on foreign forces, their military and intelligence infrastructure and in eliminating their internal mercenary apparatus,” or Afghan security forces and the government.
As in the past, the Taliban said that it would launch “conventional attacks, guerrilla warfare, complex martyrdom attacks, insider attacks, and use of IEDs” against foreign and local forces.
The Taliban also urged civilians to “avoid enemy bases and their military and intelligence personnel” in order to limit civilian casualties, “and to assist their Mujahideen brothers by all means possible.”
While the Taliban’s yearly announcement of its spring offensive is often viewed as a propaganda exercise, Taliban military and political operations often closely adhere to the announced goals. Last year, the Taliban promised it would “employ large scale attacks on enemy positions across the country” and launch “martyrdom-seeking and tactical attacks against enemy strongholds.” The Taliban put pressure on six provincial capitals and overran several districts during last year’s offensive. Just last week, the Taliban penetrated security at an Afghan Army corps headquarters in Balkh province and killed more than 140 Afghan soldiers.
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