Heads of Afghan security agencies at a press conference on Monday justified the change from "active defense mode" -- which was intended as a means of reducing violence following the signing of the US-Taliban deal--to "offense mode," which President Ghani called for days ago in the wake of shocking attacks that took dozens of civilian lives.
The deadly attacks in Kabul and Nangarhar, and a rise in violence by the Taliban in many parts of the country, led President Ghani to call for the military's switch to an aggressive approach, and the officials at the press conference gave supporting evidence for the change.
Speaking at the conference, acting Interior Affairs Minister Gen. Massoud Andarabi said the Taliban has conducted “over 3,800 attacks against the Afghan people and the Afghan government,” and that the group cannot avoid blame for its “crimes” simply by not claiming attacks.
Their conference was held hours after a vehicle-borne bomb exploded at a National Directorate of Security (NDS) facility in the central province of Ghazni, killing eight security force members. The Taliban claimed the attack.
Andarabi said that historical sites were damaged in the attack.
Defending the government’s offensive operations against the Taliban, Andarabi said the Taliban "provides opportunities for other militant groups to operate in Afghanistan."
He added that the Afghan forces are fighting for peace, while "the Taliban is continuing the war on behalf of strangers."
Ahmad Zia Saraj, the acting head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), provided figures on the Taliban’s links with terrorist groups in the region.
Saraj said the Afghan government has always called for peace but “the Taliban has rejected the call for peace,” adding the US-Taliban deal raised hopes for peace but, regretfully, one part--the reduction in violence--was not implemented by the group.
He said the Taliban has increased violence and has been seeking to recruit new members. He added that "the Taliban is not thinking about peace, but war."
Saraj briefed the reporters on a recent operation by NDS forces to arrest a key Daesh member, Aslam Farooqi, and other operations to destroy Daesh hideouts around Kabul.
The Taliban’s ties with foreign terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba “have improved” and intense conflicts are ongoing in various parts of the country, Saraj said.
According to him, one of those arrested from a Daesh hideout in the north of Kabul “was a Haqqani network member.”
The acting NDS chief said the Taliban attacked Afghans’ culture by targeting the security forces in Ghazni, who were deployed to safeguard historical sites.
Saraj said Daesh’s main command centers have been destroyed and that attacks in some parts are carried out by small groups of Daesh that have four to five members.
Another official at the press conference was Army Chief of Staff Gen. Bismillah Waziri, who said the people expect the Afghan forces to defend them; therefore, they started ground and air operations and will continue until new orders are given.
Waziri said that measures have been taken in all government operations to prevent civilian casualties.