New security forces unit becomes active: Minister

KABUL (Tolo News): A new unit of the security forces comprised of Afghan police, Afghan army and the National Directorate of Security has started its operations, a unit that will act when it is informed about any movement by militants, the Interior Affairs Minister Gen. Massoud Andarabi said.

Andarabi, who addressed lawmakers in the Afghan parliament, said a trial phase of the new unit has started in Farah and their activities will increase by summer. He said that the Taliban’s attacks have been thwarted in the south of the country and at least 1,000 Taliban fighters were killed in Helmand and Kandahar in recent months.

Andarabi said that the Taliban is “conducting targeted attacks” to create attention in the media and affect people’s trust in the government. He said their assessment indicates that the Kandahar situation has improved, adding that the Taliban is preparing for a full-scale campaign for the next fighting season.

He said Afghan forces are ready to defend against them. NDS chief Ahmad Zia Saraj said the Taliban has not cut their ties with “foreign terrorists” and has not reduced violence and they have violated their commitments to the peace deal.

Saraj says that the Taliban is focused on targeted killings, especially against the civil society and journalist communities. The NDS chief said that suspects have been arrested for five of the last eight attacks on journalists and civil society activists. He says three attacks on journalists have been prevented.

The NDS chief says that RDX is used in most magnetic IED explosions in the country. He says that ammonium nitrate and potassium chloride are also used in these explosions. Meanwhile, US forces spokesman Sonny Leggett rejected a Taliban claim about a US violation of the US-Taliban agreement, saying “US Forces have been clear and consistent: We will defend Afghan forces against (Taliban) attacks. We renew our call for all sides to reduce violence.”

“The Taliban’s campaign of unclaimed attacks and targeted killings of government officials, civil society leaders and journalists must also cease for peace to succeed,” he said.

 The Taliban in a statement said that US forces conducted air strikes in Nangarhar and Helmand provinces in support of Afghan forces, which had initiated contact. The Taliban said that these actions are a violation of the US-Taliban deal.