The Taliban has warned the United States against further intervention in Afghanistan, a Taliban spokesperson told news network Al Jazeera Arabic on Sunday, after the insurgent group seized control of three provincial capitals within days of each other.
There is no ceasefire agreement with the Afghan government on the horizon as the Taliban continues its military gains, said Muhammad Naeem Wardak, the spokesman for the Taliban’s political bureau.
This comments come after the Taliban seized control of Kunduz, a strategically important provincial capital in northern Afghanistan, on Sunday. It is the first major city to fall to the insurgent group since it began its offensive in May, and marks a big blow to the Afghan government.
It’s also the latest of a string of victories for the Taliban as foreign forces, led by the US, complete their withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The provincial capital Zaranj, near the Iranian border, fell into Taliban control on Friday; the next day, the insurgents seized the provincial capital Sherberghan, near the border of Turkmenistan. On Sunday, Taliban forces mostly overran the provincial capital city of Sar-e-Pul, also in the country’s north.
The country’s swift descent into violence has shocked many. There are fears even the national capital, Kabul, could fall.
In the past week, the US has increased airstrikes against Taliban positions in a bid to halt their advances. The Taliban has accused the US of bombing a hospital and a high school, along with other civilian targets in Helmand Province. CNN could not independently verify their claims.
“US forces have conducted several airstrikes in defense of our Afghan partners in recent days,” Maj. Nicole Ferrara, a US Central Command spokesperson, told CNN on Sunday, sidestepping a question about the targets of the strikes.
When speaking to Al Jazeera on Sunday, Wardak warned the US against further intervention, and blamed the Afghan government for starting the recent fighting.
“The Afghani government is the one who chose to start the war in different provinces,” said Wardak. The measures that (the) Taliban took were in response and reaction to the government attacks and actions.”
The US Embassy in Kabul has criticized the Taliban’s offensive on Afghan cities, saying on Sunday its actions to “forcibly impose its rule are unacceptable and contradict its claim to support a negotiated settlement in the Doha peace process.”
“They demonstrate wanton disregard for the welfare and rights of civilians and will worsen this country’s humanitarian crisis,” said the embassy.