KABUL, Afghanistan – United States Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said Monday an “inflammatory rhetoric” does not help advance peace process between the Afghan representatives and Taliban delegations in Qatari capital Doha.
“Unfounded charges of violations and inflammatory rhetoric do not advance peace,” he said in a tweet. “Instead, we should pursue strict adherence to all articles of the U.S.-Taliban Agreement and U.S.-Afghanistan Joint Declaration and not neglect the commitment to gradually reduce violence.”
Khalilzad said the growing violence in Afghanistan remains “distressingly high” in spite of the recent reaffirmation of the need for substantial reduction, which threatens the “core understanding that there is no military solution”.
“Our expectation has been and remains that violence comes down and stays down,” he exclaimed, addressing the recent attacks in Helmand province that left some 6,000 families displaced.
“It was a focus of the Agreement we signed, further highlighted in connection with the releases of the last batch of prisoners and reaffirmed again in the most recent commitment all sides made to adhere to all aspects of the deal,” Khalilzad elaborated.
“We must adhere to the letter and spirit of what was negotiated and the recent understanding. They provide a path to minimizing Afghan loss of life and protecting an historic opportunity for peace which must not be missed,” he concluded.
The Taliban has accused the United States troops still in Afghanistan of repeatedly violating the peace deal signed between the two sides in Doha in February, warning Washington must shoulder the blame for subsequent violence.
“In recent days, the United States forces conducted day-and-night airstrikes in Nahri Saraj, Khoshkawa, Babaji of Helmand province, including areas in Gereshk, Sangin, Nawa and Nad Ali districts,” said the Taliban spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousof Ahmadi, in a statement. “Also [airstrikes] in Farah and other provinces, which is a clear violation of the Doha agreement.”
Violence in Afghanistan has continued despite the February peace deal between the U.S. and the Taliban; with recent offensives in Helmand that displaced some 6,000 families in the province.
In a respond, Colonel Sonny Leggett, the spokesman for the US forces in Afghanistan, said the “airstrikes in Helmand and Farah have been and continue to be solely in defense of the ANDSF as they are being attacked by the Taliban.”
“We categorically reject the Taliban’s claim the United States has violated the U.S.-Taliban Agreement,” he said in a tweet Sunday. “These strikes are consistent with both the U.S.-Taliban Agreement and the Joint Declaration between the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the United States.”
But Ahmadi defied saying the action was unacceptable, for American forces have violated the Doha agreement in various forms by carrying out excessive airstrikes in Helmand province.
This came at a time the Taliban insurgents escalated violence in Helmand, including a number of cities in North Afghanistan. The recent is a car bomb explosion in Ghor province that left at least 12 dead and 100 further wounded Sunday morning.