Taliban announce annual spring offensive in Afghanistan

Security forces guard a military convoy near Kandahar Afghanistan. The Taliban said Friday it's planning a spring offensive as a response to a similar plan by the Kabul government. File

In Kabul, the Afghan High Peace Council, a government body created years ago to talk peace with anti-government forces, condemned the Taliban announcement, saying it brought into question the insurgents' sincerity in seeking a peaceful end to the war.

United States special representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad expressed dismay on Friday over the Taliban's latest announcement of a Spring offensive.

The Taliban militants on Friday announced the launch of its spring offensive "Al-Fath" on Friday.

"They engaged Afghan security forces to show their presence with the start of their spring offensive", one senior official said.

The Taliban controls or contests about half of Afghan territory, according to US military assessments.

"The U.S. and our global partners will stand with Afghan security forces to continue our effort to end the war in Afghanistan, at the same time as we seek to bring parties to the table to negotiate peace", Khalilzad tweeted late Friday.

"All sides must end unnecessary violence, and instead engage in Intra-Afghan dialogue which leads to negotiations on a political settlement and a roadmap to end the war this year".


Taleban fighters mounted a big attack in eastern Afghanistan on Friday (April 12) heralding the start of a spring offensive despite ongoing preparations for another round of peace talks.

The statement says that the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces have been clearly directed to take their measures based on the principle of defending the country's sovereignty and honor. "We assemble the Resolute Support leadership together and Gen. Miller said the Taliban have made it clear that they have ignored the will of the people and have guaranteed more violence", Butler said.

The group said in a statement that the offensive will be conducted across Afghanistan with the aim of "eradicating occupation" and "cleansing our Muslim homeland from invasion and corruption".

In Kunduz, the strategic city which briefly fell to the Taliban in 2015, fighters attacked from several directions in the early hours of the morning, causing heavy casualties, the provincial governor's spokesman Enhamuddin Rahmani said.

"We are committed to the ongoing negotiations process and a peaceful resolution but can not remain indifferent to the military operations and ongoing crimes of the invaders [U.S. -led alliance] and their internal supporters", Mujahid said in a statement sent to media.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid responded a day later by condemning Khalilzad's remarks and saying insurgent "spring operations" sought to end USA -led foreign "occupation, attain sovereignty and establish an Islamic system" in the country.

Two members of the security forces were also killed.

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