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Taliban say do not want to fight inside Afghanistan’s cities

Taliban say do not want to fight inside Afghanistan’s cities
July 13, 2021

(AFP) - The Taliban do not want to battle government forces inside Afghanistan’s cities and would rather see them surrender, a senior insurgent leader said Tuesday, as the militants also warned Turkey against extending its troop presence.

The Taliban has swept through much of the north as foreign troops complete their withdrawal, and the Afghan government now holds little more than a constellation of provincial capitals that must largely be resupplied by air.

As security deteriorates, France on Tuesday became the latest country to call on its citizens to leave — offering them a last flight out of Kabul, free of charge, on Saturday.

“The Embassy of France formally recommends to all French citizens to take this special flight or to leave the country immediately by their own means,” the embassy said. On July 1, Germany, too, had called on its citizens to leave the country.

Earlier, the head of a Taliban commission that oversees government forces who surrender urged residents of Afghanistan’s cities to reach out to them.

“Now that the fighting from mountains and deserts has reached the doors of the cities, Mujahiddin (Taliban) don’t want fighting inside the city,” Amir Khan Muttaqi said in a message tweeted by a Taliban spokesman.

“It is better… to use any possible channel to get in touch with our invitation and guidance commission,” he said, adding this would “prevent their cities from getting damaged”.

The strategy is one well-worn by the Taliban — particularly during their first rise to power in the 1990s — cutting off towns and district centres and getting elders to negotiate a surrender.

Hours after Muttaqi’s message, a rush hour roadside bomb blast in the centre of the Afghan capital killed four civilians and wounded 11 others, police said.

Muttaqi’s comments came as the defence ministry said Afghan forces had cleared Qala-i-Naw city after days of fighting.

The Badghis province capital saw sustained street fighting last week in the first assault by the Taliban on a major urban centre since foreign troops commenced their final withdrawal in May.

The call also came the same day as a video emerged that CNN said it had verified, showing a group of Afghan commandos being gunned down by the Taliban in June after surrendering.