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Taliban announce spring offensive as Afghanistan peace talks continue

15 April 2019

"At a time when all Afghans should come together in talks to determine a common future, a call for fighting suggests the Taliban are stuck in the ways of the past", he said.

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

The Taliban ambushed a police convoy in western Afghanistan, killing seven security forces, an official said Saturday.

Representatives from a range of Afghan groups are also expected to be present but the talks will once again exclude the Afghan government, which the Taleban dismiss as a US-appointed " puppet" regime.

Another 25 militants were killed by the security forces and 12 more suffered wounds in the northeastern Afghan province of Badakhshan, the Defense Ministry said in a separate press release.

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"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.

Nangarhar provincial governor spokesman Ataullah Khogyani said two Afghan troops had been killed, along with 27 Taliban fighters.

However, after repeated rounds of negotiations between United States and Taleban representatives over recent months, the new offensive underlined how far Afghanistan remains from peace more than 17 years after US-backed forces drove the Taleban from power in 2001. The US is hoping to seal a draft agreement on counter-terrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, intra-Afghan dialogue, and a comprehensive ceasefire, before Afghan voters go to the polls in July.

The Taliban ruled some three-quarters of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, before being ousted in a US-led invasion.

The Taliban launches its annual offensive in spring aimed at gaining grounds to topple Afghan government.

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Taliban forces attacked the northern Afghan city of Kunduz on Saturday, a day after the launch of their annual spring offensive, as fighting intensified across the country ahead of the next round of peace talks with US representatives.

The spring offensive traditionally marks the start of the so-called fighting season, though fighting nowadays continues unabated throughout the year.

It comes as Washington has been holding several rounds of talks with the Taliban to put an end to 17 years of violence, the longest war ever waged by the US. The militants captured Ghazni city, the capital of eastern Ghazni government, for days in 2018, besides gaining grounds in several districts, but failed to capture any province or important district.

"Taliban peace interlocutors" names have been removed from the UN Security Council black list for nine months, the group's spokesman claimed on Friday.

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Taliban announce spring offensive as Afghanistan peace talks continue