KABUL (Al Jazeera) – Afghanistan government forces are planning a counteroffensive in the country’s northern provinces after losing ground to the Taliban, Russia’s RIA news agency has cited an adviser to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani as saying.
National security adviser Hamdullah Mohib told RIA in an interview on Monday that government forces would “absolutely, definitely” counterattack.
“The Taliban used the vacuum in which the Americans and other international troops were retrograding and launched an unannounced offensive. And that took many of the Afghan security forces by surprise. Because like I said, we were expecting peace, not war,” he emphasized.
“The Afghan national defense and security forces along with the people who have come to support them are working to manage the security situation there,” added the advisor to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
Mohib arrived in Russia last week for talks with the head of Russia’s national security committee, Nikolai Patrushev, to discuss the Afghan “peace process” as well as bilateral cooperation between intelligence and law enforcement agencies of the two nations.
On Monday, Tajikistan’s national security committee said 1,037 Afghan government troops had fled into the country “in order to save their lives” after clashes with the Taliban during the night.
“Taking into account the principle of good neighborliness and adhering to the position of non-interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan, the military personnel of the Afghan government forces were allowed to enter Tajik territory,” the committee said in a statement distributed by Tajikistan’s state information agency Khovar.
It said the Taliban has taken “full control” of six districts of the Badakhshan province bordering Tajikistan in Afghanistan’s northeast.
The Taliban now control roughly a third of all 421 districts and district centers in Afghanistan.