HELMAND, Afghanistan, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- Ahead of launching a massive military operation against Taliban in Marja district of southern Helmand province, Afghan Interior Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar Thursday called on Taliban militants to give up militancy and join the peace process.
Addressing a press conference after holding meeting with elders from Marja and Nad Ali districts Thursday morning in Helmand's provincial capital Lashkar Gah, Atmar said he wants Taliban fighters to renounce insurgency and join the peace process launched by the government.
Flanked by Deputy to Defense Ministry General Mohammad Akram, the Afghan interior minister said, "I am calling on Taliban in Marja to renounce militancy, join peace process and play their role in rebuilding the country."
He also said that the purpose of the operation is to pave the way for reconstruction and bringing lasting peace and stability in Marja district and surrounding regions.
Thousands of Afghan and the NATO-led troops including U.S. Marines are poised to launch the ever-biggest offensive in Marja, a hotbed of Taliban and drug producing center in south Afghanistan.