15:20 GMT12 August 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The Afghan Presidential Palace has lambasted the announcement by the Taliban of a new spring offensive, calling it "illegitimate". The authorities urged the movement to engage in peace talks.

    "The Afghan government is ready to defend every corner of the country but it once again calls on the Taliban leadership to stop the illegitimate and imposed war and nod to the unconditional invitation of the Afghan government and people for peace talks," the statement said as quoted by the Tolo News broadcaster.

    US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad also condemned the Taliban announcement on Friday, calling it "reckless."

    READ MORE: At Least 37 Taliban Militants Killed by Afghan Special Forces — Reports

    The aforementioned announcement by the Taliban said that it would undertake a spring offensive despite being part of the ongoing US-led peace talks for Afghanistan. The goal of the Taliban’s Operation Fath – "victory" in Arabic – is to cleanse Afghanistan from invasion and corruption, the movement reportedly said.

    Crisis in Afghanistan

    Afghanistan has long been ravaged by war and political instability, but the two main opponents, the Afghan government and the Taliban, have been making efforts toward achieving peace by holding indirect talks.

    The Taliban emerged in 1994 at the height of a civil war in Afghanistan. The group held power in most of the country between 1996 and 2001; during this period, it introduced Islamic Sharia law.

    The Taliban was ousted from power by a US-led coalition in 2001 and has since then been waging a guerrilla war against the Kabul-based government, and NATO forces in Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan.

    According to Russia's envoy to Afghanistan, the militants control at least 50 per cent of Afghanistan's territory and their ranks include from 3,500 to 10,000 Daesh fighters, who regularly carry out terror attacks across the country.


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