KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban on Saturday announced the start of their spring offensive, signaling plans to step up attacks as the weather warms across Afghanistan, making both travel and fighting easier.
The statement comes toward the end of a month that already has been the deadliest of the year.
The militant group’s leadership vowed that “every possible tactic will be utilized in order to detain or inflict heavy casualties on the foreign transgressors,” including suicide attacks on military bases and diplomatic areas. The leadership also threated more so-called insider attacks by members of the Afghan security forces against their colleagues or foreign troops.
Such attacks threaten the strength of the Afghan forces as they work to take over responsibility from international troops. The latest one occurred in March, when a member of Afghanistan’s government-backed militia program shot and killed five of his colleagues in Badghis province in northwest Afghanistan.
In a sign of Taliban’s determination to replace Afghanistan’s government with one promoting a stricter interpretation of Islamic law, they named their new offensive after a legendary Muslim military commander, Khalid ibn al-Walid. Also known as “the Drawn Sword of God,” he was a companion of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.
Afghanistan’s defense ministry responded by saying its security forces are prepared for Taliban’s new campaign. “The Afghan National Army is ready to neutralize the offensive,” the ministry said, adding that the soldiers now have the support and trust of many Afghans.