The U.N. special envoy for Afghanistan told the U.N. Security Council on Friday that the war in the country had entered a "deadlier and more destructive phase.”
Deborah Lyons also questioned the Taliban’s commitment to a political solution.
"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," she said.
The Taliban have intensified attacks on Afghan government forces in recent months as U.S. and NATO forces have left the country. On Friday, the group captured a provincial capital and killed the government’s top media spokesmen in Kabul. Recently, it seized key border crossings.
"To attack urban areas is to knowingly inflict enormous harm and cause massive civilian casualties. Nonetheless, the threatening of large urban areas appears to be a strategic decision by the Taliban, who have accepted the likely carnage that will ensue," Lyons said.
Hopes for a solution through the Doha peace talks, which started last year, appear to be fading in the face of Taliban successes.
No military takeover
Senior U.S. diplomat Jeffrey DeLaurentis appealed to the Taliban to stop their attacks and seek a political settlement.
"The Taliban must hear from the international community that we will not accept a military takeover of Afghanistan or a return of the Taliban's Islamic Emirate," he said.
Afghanistan's U.N. Ambassador Ghulam Isaczai urged the Security Council to act in order to "prevent a catastrophic situation."
"We're alarmed by reports and incidents of gross human rights violations by the Taliban and their foreign terrorist associates in almost half of our country, and we are extremely concerned about the safety and security of people in cities under Taliban attacks," he said.
Some information for this report came from Reuters and The Associated Press.