Russian Diplomat: Taliban May Lay Siege To Kabul In Spring

Russian Diplomat: Taliban May Lay Siege To Kabul In Spring

MOSCOW. Dec 29 (Interfax) – The Taliban may mount an offensive against government forces and even lay siege to Kabul in spring after the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) leaves Afghanistan but they will be unable to take the city, Special Representative of the Russian President for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov said.

“There is every indicator that forces and materiel are being concentrated, primarily, by the Taliban which may mount a major offensive in spring of next year,” he said in an interview with Interfax.

“There is a winter seasonal decline in the hostilities now, which is traditional of Afghanistan. But, by the way, the armed opposition traditionally steps up terrorist activity for demonstrating its presence in the winter season, and we are witnessing this now,” he said.

The protracted presidential elections in Afghanistan and the related uncertainty have led to the gradual expansion of the zone of Taliban influence into regions around Kabul, the diplomat said.

“This means they are controlling not only the southeast of the country where the Taliban has always had strong positions but also possessing rather strong positions around Kabul, in provinces which actually encircle the Afghan capital city. Previously they were threatening Kabul only from the east and the southeast and were able to block main roads, and now they are creating a threat from the north as well,” Kabulov said.

The Taliban has taken strong positions in Pashto villages in provinces north of Kabul.

“This mean they can block all roads to Kabul and the city will find itself under siege at any moment and in a coordinated action,” he said.

“This is not happening now because a Taliban siege to Kabul will affect the interests of sellers, farmers who live on supplying their products to Kabul and will cause public discontent. Naturally, the Taliban is bearing this in mind. But when they see an opportunity they may attack the capital city as well,” Kabulov said.

“As far as I can judge by their military potential, they are unable to seize it. Kabul is being defended by the most combat capable army corps and there are also foreign troops there, enjoying aerial support,” he said.

“So, I do not have such fears but it is quite possible that the Taliban may destabilize the situation and therefore have a strong negotiating position and force their will on the Afghan government,” the diplomat said.
The full text of the interview with Kabulov will be published on the http://www.interfax.ru website.

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