Published: Mon, April 15, 2019

Fighting continues across Afghanistan as Taliban opens offensive before talks

Fighting continues across Afghanistan as Taliban opens offensive before talks

"The U.S. and our worldwide 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.

Earlier in the day, a local security official said, as cited by Khaama Press that the Afghan security forces killed nine members of the Taliban movement in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar late on Friday after the militants tried to overrun a security checkpoint.

The Taliban on Saturday claimed responsibility for an attack in eastern Afghanistan that the group said was part of its newly announced spring offensive.

Later this month, Taliban officials are expected to meet Afghanistan representatives, including some officials from the government in Kabul, in Qatar's capital Doha. "If executed, it will only yield more suffering and thousands more causalities".

However, the Afghan Defense Ministry has termed Taliban newly launched so-called annual offensive as mere propaganda to boost morale of its fighters to continue useless insurgency in the conflict-plagued country.

In a series of tweets released hours after the Taliban announced a new spring offensive, the USA chief peace negotiator also urged Pakistan and Qatar to condemn the Taliban's announcement, arguing that an increase in violence will only hurt the peace process that these two states were backing.

The Taliban announced their spring offensive on Friday morning which is entitled Operation Al-Fatha - which means "victory" in Arabic.

The Taliban takeover of Kunduz in 2015 shocked observers, and marked the first time since their ouster in 2001 that they had been able to conquer a major city.

It added that the Taliban and their regional allies are pursuing power through the "imposed war", but the Afghan government will defend every inch of its territory.

The Taliban have long refused to speak officially with Kabul, calling the government a "puppet" of the West.

Friday's announcement was largely symbolic in character, as the insurgents have been carrying out daily attacks throughout the winter on Afghan security forces and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops.

After almost 18 years of war, the USA is trying to forge a settlement with the Taliban, and President Donald Trump is impatient for some sort of resolution. "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 requested exemption is exclusively for travels required for participation in peace and reconciliation discussions", the UN Security Council said.

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