April 13 (UPI) — Amid ongoing peace talks, the Taliban said Friday it’s planning a spring offensive to fight U.S. and Afghan forces in the war-torn nation.
The insurgent group announced Operation Fath, which means “victory” in Arabic, with the aim of “eradicating occupation” and “cleansing our Muslim homeland from invasion and corruption.” The group opposes the continued presence of U.S. forces that have been in the country since late 2001.
“Our Jihadi obligation has not yet ended,” the Taliban said.
Last month, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced his own spring offensive, titled Operation Khalid. The Taliban said Friday its new plans are a response to Ghani’s operation. Afghan defense minister Qais Mangal called the Taliban’s threat “mere propaganda.”
The fighting has intensified throughout Afghanistan as the weather gets warmer. On Monday, three U.S. Marines were killed by a roadside bomb near Bagram air base. Eig Qais Mangal ht Afghan police officers also died Monday in a Taliban attack in Balkh province.
U.S. and Taliban officials have been meeting in recent weeks to negotiate a withdrawal of American forces — talks that have upset the Afghan government because it’s not been part of the discussions. President Donald Trump in December mentioned a possible withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
The Taliban said it plans to meet soon with an Afghan delegation at a peace conference. The government has lifted travel restrictions for some Taliban officials for the meeting.