Taliban announce spring offensive 1 week after Afghanistan massacre

Members of the Taliban gather at the site of the execution of three men accused of murdering a couple during a robbery in Ghazni province Afghanistan

Nicholson has called for thousands of additional troops to help prop up the Afghan military, which is struggling to hold off the Taliban and an array of other militant groups.

That report said that the Afghan government had control or influence over only 52 percent of Afghanistan's 407 districts a year ago, down from 63.4 percent previously.

The operation "will differ from previous ones in nature, and will be conducted with a twin-tracked political and military approach", the Taliban said.

Taliban called on the civilians to avoid moving around the military bases, government compounds, military gatherings, and other government institutions to stay safe from the attacks.

In the past month, three USA service members have been killed in operations against Islamic State militants near Afghanistan's porous border with Pakistan, where armed groups still find sanctuary.Officially, the US -led worldwide force in Afghanistan ceased combat operations at the end of 2014, but the conflict has proved hard to exit without risking the overthrow of the government in Kabul.

As President Donald Trump's administration drafts an Afghanistan policy, US officials are seeking a way to reverse gains by militant groups without wading deeper into a 15-year-long war that has no end in sight. He didn't offer specifics nor did he indicate whether this was an indication that the Taliban would step up their brand of justice that during their rule included public executions and the chopping off of hands for those convicted of theft.

About 715 civilians were killed and over 1,460 others injured in conflict-related incidents across Afghanistan in the first three months of the year, according to figures released by the United Nations mission in the country.

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The announcement came after the Taliban killed scores of people in a raid on an army base in northern Afghanistan, one of its deadliest assaults on a military installation since the 2001 US-led invasion. John Nicholson, the commander of USA troops in Afghanistan, referring to the Islamic State cell in Afghanistan, known as Islamic State-Khorasan Province.

It is also where the U.S. dropped one of its most powerful bombs earlier this month, killing close to 100 ISIS fighters, according to Afghan officials. He said dozens of IS fighters were also killed but because of the remoteness of the region it was impossible to independently confirm the deaths.

"The fight against ISIS-K is important for the world but, sadly, it is not without sacrifice", Gen. John W. Nicholson, commander, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, said.

The attack occurred in the same area where two weeks ago the US dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb on an IS complex. Mohammad Zekria Sawda said the district fell after heavy fighting.

The Taliban would also focus on developing areas "cleansed from the enemy", the statement said.

The Taliban on Friday announced the start of their yearly rebel offensive in Afghanistan.

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