KABUL: The UN special envoy to Afghanistan has said that the Taliban’s commitment to peace is questionable following high civilian casualties in the ongoing deteriorated violence in the country.
Talking to the U.N. Security Council, Deborah Lyons said that the Afghan conflict has entered a “deadlier and more destructive phase” with more than 1,000 civilians killed in the past month during a Taliban offensive.
“A party that was genuinely committed to a negotiated settlement would not risk so many civilian casualties, because it would understand that the process of reconciliation will be more challenging, the more blood is shed,” Lyons said.
Since April, the Taliban has ramped up its drive to destabilize the US-backed government as foreign troops are scheduled to complete full pullout on August 31.
On Friday, the Taliban took control of Zaranj, capital of Nimroz province in Afghanistan and killed the government’s senior media officer in Kabul.
“This is now a different kind of war, reminiscent of Syria, recently, or Sarajevo, in the not-so-distant past,” the UN envoy said.
The U.N. Security Council has the ability to impose targeted sanctions on Taliban individuals or entities who constitute a threat to the peace, stability and security of Afghanistan.
Jeffrey DeLaurentis, a senior US ambassador, urged the Taliban to cease their onslaught, seek a diplomatic solution, and safeguard Afghanistan’s infrastructure and people.
Afghanistan’s U.N. Ambassador Ghulam Isaczai urged the Security Council to act to “prevent a catastrophic situation.” He told reporters that he was confident the Afghan army could withstand the Taliban offensive and that the country was not yet in a civil war.
“We have a six-month security strategy to stabilize the situation,” he added, “and we’ve seen an outpouring of support from neighborhoods and villages that have just been assaulted by the Taliban… so there’s a lot of enthusiasm among the public to assist the army.”