By Baber Khan Sahel
Kabul, June 23 (EFE).- The Afghan government has vowed to give weapons and financial support to civilians to defeat Taliban fighters who have made rapid territorial gains amid an ongoing withdrawal of foreign troops.
The government has also enlisted the support of former warlords after the United States-led NATO forces started pulling out of the war-torn country on May 1 in a process to be completed by Sep.11.
“The support of people (…) is effective and essential in the fight against terrorism. With their support, the security forces will defeat the Taliban and the areas which have fallen to them will be recaptured,” defense ministry spokesperson Fawad Aman told EFE.
He claimed that public support for the Afghan security forces was strong, and people were fighting against “the terrorists.”
The newly appointed defense minister, Bismillah Muhammadi, also issued an appeal on Facebook for people to support the government forces.
“We are ready to provide all necessary facilities and equipment to them,” he said.
The government is inducting the civilian fighters under the command of former religious and regional warlords, who fought against the Soviet invasion in the 1980s.
A majority of them are in the northern and eastern areas of Afghanistan.
The former warlords, who have agreed to mobilize militias to fight the Taliban, include former Tajik commander Atta Mohammad Noor, Uzbek leader Abdul Rashid Dostum and a leader of the Hazara minority Muhammad Mohaqiq.
Kabul has turned to these commanders for help after the Taliban launched unprecedented attacks in the last month and a half, particularly in northern Afghanistan.
The Taliban captured at least three district centers in Patan in Paktia, Ab-band in Ghazni, and Khash in Badakhshan in the past 24 hours.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed the capture of the three districts and claimed that the rebels seized a large number of weapons, ammunition, and vehicles from the security forces.
The defense ministry said 209 Taliban fighters were killed in the last 24 hours as fierce battles took place in at least 10 of the 34 Afghan provinces.
“Afghan security forces with the help of the public uprising forces, are advancing and some major Taliban offensives were pushed back,” the ministry said in a statement.
However, the Taliban have already taken control of 58 districts since May 1.
The insurgents have significantly increased attacks across the country as foreign troops prepare for a complete pullout by September.
The withdrawal of the foreign troops seems to have hurt the morale of the Afghan security forces, who often relied on the US airpower in their push back against the Taliban.
Although the Afghan forces were mainly responsible for anti-insurgency operations in recent months, the US air and technical support were crucial in preventing the rebels from advancing to the frontlines.
The ongoing Taliban offensive has reportedly forced the Afghan government to push for further military assistance from the United States.