The U.S. envoy for Afghan peace Zalmay Khalilzad has warned that the increase in number and lethality of Taliban attacks could endanger gains.

“@UNAMAnews released a report on civilian casualties in Afghanistan thru the 1st quarter of 2020. Because of momentum created by the Reduction in Violence in late February, civilian casualties fell 29% from the same period last year & are lower than any 1st quarter since 2012,” Khalilzad said in a Twitter post.

Khalilazad further added “But civilians still suffer from IEDs, targeted assassinations, and other consequences of the ongoing war. To protect them all sides must act now to end the violence.”

He also added “Similarly, ANDSF and Taliban casualties fell substantially in the first quarter. But the recent increase in the number and lethality of Taliban attacks endanger these gains.”

“This violence has generated a violent response from the ANDSF. The result is an escalatory cycle which is complex but inarguably a negative trend that must be reversed,” Khalilzad said, adding that “Both the Taliban and the government need to accelerate efforts to release prisoners and lower violence, which is the fastest means to intra-Afghan negotiations and a comprehensive permanent ceasefire.”

Delay means more civilian losses from Afghans fighting each other when the real war should be Afghans united against COVID-19, Khalilzad added.