New attacks as spring offensive begins in Afghanistan

Lamar Ellis
April 15, 2019

Twenty-eight Taliban fighters were eliminated by the security forces and 10 more were wounded in clearance operations in the eastern Nangarhar province, the Defense Ministry added.

Taliban, according to the government statement, launched multi-pronged offensive with two vehicle bombs followed by gunfight on Friday night to capture Shirzad district, but the security forces' "sharp reaction forced the insurgents to retreat".

The insurgents carry out daily attacks targeting Afghan security forces and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops, and inflicting staggering casualties, including among civilians.

Las year saw the Taliban entered landmark face-to-face talks for peace with the USA, but the Kabul government has yet to be made part of these talks. "If executed, it will only yield more suffering and thousands more causalities".

"Even as large parts of our homeland have been freed from the enemy yet the foreign occupying forces continue exercising military and political influence in our Islamic country", the Taleban statement said. "Many Talibs including fighters and some leaders oppose this announcement", he said on Twitter.

Peace talks with the Taliban kicked off past year, as US President Donald Trump vowed to reduce the number of US troops in Afghanistan.

The violence came hours after the Taliban announced the start of Operation Fath, the name the militants have given to this year's spring offensive.

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The announcement comes despite the U.S. efforts to end two decades of war in Afghanistan.

The United States is leading a push to forge a settlement with the Taliban, after almost 18 years of war, and has held several meetings with Taliban officials.

The Taliban has long refused to speak officially with Kabul, dubbing the government a "puppet" of the West, and the group has insisted that government officials are attending only in a "personal capacity".

Meanwhile, Afghans from all walks of life have termed the declaration of annual offensive by the Taliban group as "war mongering policy" and strongly condemned it.

A clash between government forces and the Taliban outfit in Baghlan's neighboring Samangan province has also left three local policemen dead and six others injured, Raz Mohammad Moahidi, deputy to provincial council, said.

The spring offensive traditionally marks the start of the so-called fighting season, though in reality fighting in recent winters has continued unabated. "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 US envoy held direct talks with Taliban last March in Doha that lasted 13 days.

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