The Taliban launched a spring offensive named after their late leader amid reports that U.S.-trained Afghan soldiers have been joining their ranks in restive Helmand province.
In a statement, the Taliban said Operation Omari began today at 5 a.m. local time.
In their sights? The capital of Helmand, Lashkar Gah, and more.
“The Islamic Emirate’s armed Jihad against the American invasion has completed fourteen years and is now in its fifteenth year. Jihad against the aggressive and usurping infidel army is a holy obligation upon our necks and our only recourse for reestablishing an Islamic system and regaining our independence,” said the statement signed by the group’s leadership council.
“With the advent of spring it is again time for us to renew our Jihadi determination and operations. Hence the Islamic Emirate’s leadership eagerly announces this year’s Jihadi Operation in honor of the movement’s founder and first leader, the late Amir ul Mu’mineen Mullah Muhammad Omar Mujahid.”
The Taliban admitted last July that one-eyed leader Mullah Omar had been dead for two years.
The group continued to take credit for driving out “the vast multinational coalition… filling the annals of Islamic history with deeds of valor and bravado.”
“So we pray to Allah Almighty that through the deceased’s blessed name, Operation Omari, He Almighty will consecrate this Operation with strategic victories and cleanse our beloved country from the presence of the remaining foreign invaders and their malignant and corrupt rebel servants.”
They said the date was chosen to coincide with “the day on which – under the leadership of Khalif Omar al Farooq – the Muslim armies fought and annihilated the vast infidel western army in the Battle of Yarmouk, so we pray to Allah Almighty that He bless our Operation Omari in a similar fashion and ordain it with great Islamic victories on the battlefield and the unconditional defeat and withdrawal of the foreign invaders and their internal servants.”
Operation Omari, the Taliban said, “will employ large-scale attacks on enemy positions across the country, martyrdom-seeking and tactical attacks against enemy strongholds, and assassination of enemy commanders in urban centers.”
“The present operation will also employ all means at our disposal to bog the enemy down in a war of attrition that lowers the morale of the foreign invaders and their internal armed militias,” they continued. “By employing such a multifaceted strategy it is hoped that the foreign enemy will be demoralized and forced to evict our nation.”
They hope to win over areas in which they’ve seized control or hope to through “good governance” and “a dialogue with our countrymen in the enemy ranks to give up their opposition to the establishment of an Islamic government and join the ranks of the Mujahideen so as to safeguard them from the shame and failure of this World and the Hereafter.”
“During the planning of this operation, the Mujahideen have been unequivocally instructed to implement their operations in such a manner that takes pains to protect civilians and civil infrastructure,” said the group whose regular bombings included a Monday attack on a bus carrying Afghan Education Ministry employees to work.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul issued a message to citizens Monday warning of “reports that insurgents are planning to conduct attacks targeting The Star Hotel in Kabul City.” The luxury hotel is located just a few blocks from the presidential palace, embassy and ISAF headquarters.
The Taliban called on all Afghans to “fully and in high spirits participate in this year’s operations as well so that with the help and mercy of Allah Almighty this present Jihadi Operation serves as the killing blow to the invading foreign forces and their allies and thus our nation is freed from the present invasion.”
“And nothing is hard for the Almighty Allah,” they added.