The Taliban militant group in Afghanistan has announced the start of its so-called spring offensive, saying it will look out for US forces to "kill" or "capture".
The group issued a statement announcing the launch of the so-called "Operation al-Khandagh" across Afghanistan, threatening to attack US forces, "their intelligence agents," as well as their "internal supporters" in the conflict-torn country, media reported on Wednesday.
The offensive, the Taliban said, would mainly focus on "crushing, killing, and capturing American invaders and their supporters."
It said the offensive was partly a response to US President Donald Trump's new "strategy" for Afghanistan, which is to double down on US-led military operations in the Asian country.
The threat to target US forces comes as the US-led war on and occupation of Afghanistan is in its 17th year. It also comes shortly after signs emerged that the Taliban may be willing to negotiate with the US and the Afghan government.
Trump later ruled out any negotiations with the Taliban, and the group's announcement to launch an offensive focused on US forces is likely to further complicate the Afghan war - the longest in US history.
The group said the presence of American bases in Afghanistan "sabotages all chances of peace" and were key to "prolonging the ongoing war."
Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanish dismissed the Taliban announcement as "propaganda."
The US-backed Afghan government is under pressure on multiple fronts this year as it prepares to hold long-delayed legislative elections even as its security forces struggle to get the upper hand on the battlefield and prevent civilian casualties.
On Sunday, a bombing attack at a voters' registration center in Kabul left 60 people dead and many more injured. Responsibility for that bombing was claimed by the Wahhabi Daesh [Arabic Acronym for "ISIS" / "ISIL"] terrorist group, which is also present in Afghanistan.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team