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Afghan Taliban announces annual spring offensive


KABUL – Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan announced on Thursday the launch of their annual spring offensive, ahead of the final summer before NATO-led troops are due to withdraw this year.

Operation Khaibar, named after a seventh-century victory by Prophet Mohammed and his troops, was to begin at 5.00 a.m. on Monday, the insurgents said in an online statement.

“By taking this name as a good omen for the current year, we ask Allah to completely cleanse our country from the filth of the infidels and let their large bases be liberated, Allah willing.’’

The Islamic extremists said they would “exert extra efforts and utilise complex military techniques compared to the past’’.

Nearly 51,000 US-led NATO troops are fighting a 12-year-old insurgency in Afghanistan, all set to withdraw by December.

The Taliban, who were ousted from Kabul by a 2001 U.S.-led invasion, have launched a fierce insurgency and cost the foreign troops thousands of soldiers and billions of dollars.

Taliban said their main target this year would be “the foreign invaders and their backers,’’ including spies, military and civilian contractors, translators, administrators and logistics personnel.

They also said they would hit top domestic officials, and members of the legal system who convicted their comrades, using suicide attacks and infiltration.

The fighting season traditionally begins in May after the end of the harsh winter.

This year, the winter saw a number of high profile attacks, including in Kabul, due to the presidential elections, officials said.

A small number of foreign troops may stay next year to train and conduct counter-terrorism operations.

The Taliban said they would continue their jihad “until the expulsion of every last infidel invader and establishment of an Islamic government’’. (dpa/NAN)

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