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State Dept. On Taliban Announcement of Spring Offensive

26 April 2018

The group has announced its plans to launch the so-called "spring offensive", partly amid Donald Trump's decision to increase the U.S. presence in the war-torn Central Asian country.

The announcement of the Al Khandaq campaign marks the symbolic start of the fighting season although heavy fighting has been going on in different parts of Afghanistan, with several high profile attacks in the capital of Kabul. The militants, fighting to restore their version of strict Islamic law to Afghanistan, said the campaign was a response to a more aggressive United States military strategy adopted past year, which aims to force the militants into peace talks.

"Rather they want to intensify and prolong it (the war) by engulfing Afghanistan as well as the whole region in its flames, thus securing chances of their further influence and interference", the Taliban said.

The statement issued by the Taliban on Wednesday rejected Afghan President Ghani's offer made in February for peace talks "without preconditions" as the militant group dismissed the peaceful overtures as a "conspiracy".

The Taliban lacks any justification to launch a new spring offensive as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is trying to revive the peace process, US Acting Secretary of State John Sullivan said in a statement on April 25, Sputnik news agency reported.

The radical group also urged the Afghan nation to boycott the elections and noted that the country is "occupied" by foreign forces.

However, in a counter-offensive, the government forces have targeted Taliban positions in Charbolak district of the northern Balkh province since early Thursday, killing 24 insurgents and injuring 36 others, army spokesman in the province Mohammad Hanif Rezai said. Thousands more USA troops have been sent to Afghanistan to help train the army, and commanders have been given greater authority to carry out air strikes against the militants in a major reversal of the previous policy of phased withdrawal of American forces.

Afghan observers believe that the current year would be more violent than 2017 as both the government and militants would do their best to consolidate their positions and enter the expected peace dialogue from strong position.

State Dept. On Taliban Announcement of Spring Offensive