Kabul: A senior rebel leader said on Tuesday that the Taliban did not want to fight government forces in Afghan cities because the militants also warned Turkey not to expand its presence.
In recent weeks, insurgents have swept across most of northern Afghanistan, and the government now only owns a cluster of provincial capitals, which must be reinforced and air-supplied to a large extent.
On Tuesday, the head of the Taliban committee that oversees government forces surrendering to the insurgents urged city residents to contact them.
“Now that the fighting from mountains and deserts has reached the doors of the cities, Mujahiddin don’t want fighting inside the city,” Amir Khan Muttaqi said in a message tweeted by a Taliban spokesman, using another term for the group.
“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.
In a separate statement Tuesday, the Taliban said Turkey’s decision to provide security to Kabul airport when US-led forces leave was “reprehensible”.
“We consider stay of foreign forces in our homeland by any country under whatever pretext as occupation,” the group said, days after Ankara agreed with Washington to provide security for Kabul airport.