Code 135568
PublishDate: Saturday, February 16, 201900:32

Afghan troops keep pressing militants amid peace efforts

AVA- "Afghan National Army (ANA) conducted 11 military operations, 79 small-range special operations within the past 24 hours. The raids left 37 terrorists dead and 14 others injured," the ministry said in a statement.
The raids were launched in 11 of the country's 34 provinces. Twenty Taliban militants were killed and 10 others wounded during clashes in Andar and Qara Bagh districts of eastern Ghazni province.
The Afghan security forces, backed by the NATO-led coalition troops, have increased ground and air offensives against militants over the past few months, while militants have been attempting to take territory and consolidate their positions during the winter in the mountainous country.
On the outskirts of Tirin Kot, capital of southern Uruzgan province, 10 insurgents were killed during a raid in the restive province over the period, the statement added.
Five Taliban militants were killed and four others wounded in Sayyad district of northern Sari Pul province.
Three militants' vehicles, two motorcycles and a militants' hideout were also destroyed during the above raids, according to the statement.
Two militants were killed in southern Helmand and eastern Laghman provinces while four insurgents were arrested together with much weapons and ammunition in eastern Nangarhar province, the statement added.
The latest operations came as media reports suggested that significant progress had been made during recent negotiation between a U.S. delegation and Taliban representatives in Qatar.
On Thursday, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, who is attending the Munich Security Conference in Germany, met with U.S. Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and discussed recent developments on peace in the region, the Afghan Presidential Palace said on Friday.
They talked about next steps in the peace process, including the consultative Loya Jirga or Afghan Ground Assembly aimed at reestablishing consensus among Afghans on the peace process, the statement said.
According to the statement, Khalilzad "reiterated that the U.S. government is committed to playing a facilitative role in the peace process under the umbrella of Afghan government."
"Good meeting with President Ashraf Ghani this afternoon in Munich. We discussed next steps on consultative Loya Jirga and the urgent necessity of an intra-Afghan dialogue, as well as key regional developments. We are united in our pursuit of peace," Khalilzad, who is expected to meet with Taliban representatives later this month in Doha, tweeted.
The Afghan Air Force also launched five airstrikes against militants and conducted 75 supportive flights during the past 24 hours, the Defense Ministry's statement noted.
However, the militants may respond the military operations by armed attacks and roadside bombings.
Earlier this week, three civilians were killed and eight others wounded after mortar shells struck a house during a ground fighting between Taliban and security forces in Takhar province.
"Afghan National Army as the nation's defense forces are ready to give sacrifice to bring lasting peace and security to the people and are determined to eradicate terror groups in Afghanistan." the statement said.
The statement did not say whether any security force member was hurt during the operations.

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