Khalilzad hopes to end Afghan war this year

Fighters with Afghanistan's Taliban militia stand with their weapons in Ahmad Aba district in 2017

Over a dozen Taliban fighters including 2 foreigners were killed and 10 others injured, the official said, adding they were deafeated.

The Afghan government mounted its own offensive, dubbed Khalid, in March.

The government of Afghanistan, besides defending the country and its sovereignty, once again urged the Taliban leadership to give up illegitimate fighting and join the peace talks to end the war in the country, the statement added.

In a series of tweets released hours after the Taliban announced a new spring offensive, the U.S. 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 U.S. and our global 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.

The Taliban, who effectively control almost half the country, have continued to carry out daily attacks on Afghan security forces despite holding several rounds of talks with the United States aimed at ending the 17-year war.

The Taliban effectively controls almost half of Afghanistan and has continued to launch frequent attacks on security forces despite holding several rounds of peace talks with the United States in recent months after almost 18 years of war.

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According to Afghan officials, Taliban fighters on Friday night detonated two truck bombs in the Shirzad district of Nangarhar province, east of Kabul.

On Friday, the Taliban launched the annual spring offensives with the declared intention of overrunning large areas, including townships.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's office on Saturday condemned "in the strongest words" the announcement of Operation Fath.

Representatives from a range of Afghan groups are also expected to be present but the talks will once again exclude the Afghan government, which the Taleban dismiss as a US-appointed " puppet" regime. "The Afghan and world religious scholars have clearly said that the war in Afghanistan has no religious legitimacy and its continuance has no legitimate judgment".

During the attack, which lasted several hours, two members of the security forces lost their lives and another eight were wounded, with two of them in critical condition, Khogyanai said.

The spring offensive traditionally marks the start of the so-called fighting season, though in reality fighting in the last winter has continued unabated.

Mr Khalilzad leads the United States team in talks with the Taliban that are held in Doha, Qatar, with Pakistan's support, which responded positively to a USA request to facilitate the talks.

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