US says Taliban seeking to secure 'battlefield victory'

'All recent indications, at least, indicate the Taliban are instead pursuing a battlefield victory,' says State Department.

US says Taliban seeking to secure 'battlefield victory'

All signs point to the Taliban seeking to forge a victory by force as it continues to press its offensive against the Afghan government, the State Department said Wednesday. 

The announcement comes as the US's special envoy for the conflict in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, attended intra-Afghan talks in Qatar to "help formulate a joint international response to the rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan," according to the department.

Other parties including Russia, China, the UK, the European Union, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and the UN are also reportedly participating in the talks intended to forge an international consensus on the need to negotiate a political settlement to Afghanistan's conflict.

"All recent indications, at least, indicate the Taliban are instead pursuing a battlefield victory," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters during a news conference.

The US has vowed to diplomatically isolate the hardline group should it seize power from the Afghan government by force, though the warnings have not prompted any reduction in Taliban violence.

Price said the Taliban agreed in a 2020 deal they struck with the US to participate in intra-Afghan negotiations to pursue "a permanent and comprehensive cease-fire agreement," saying current levels of violence are "unacceptably high."

"Attacking provincial capitals and targeting civilians is inconsistent with the spirit of the agreement," he said.

Violence has escalated across Afghanistan as US-led foreign forces have nearly completed their withdrawal from the country following a 20-year war.

The Taliban have rapidly captured several smaller administrative districts in recent weeks and are now targeting towns and cities. They have captured nine provincial centers from government forces in six days.

US President Joe Biden said Tuesday he did not regret his decision to pull US troops from Afghanistan.

Biden maintained that his plans to exit militarily have not changed, despite the group's battlefield successes, emphasizing that Afghanistan's leaders must come together to "fight for themselves, fight for their nation."

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