By Safvan Allahverdi
The State Department said Wednesday it stands with the people and security forces of Afghanistan after the Taliban announced the start of their spring offensive against American and Afghan troops.
"We have seen the Taliban’s announcement of their spring offensive. The announcement affirms the Taliban’s responsibility for the insecurity that destroys the lives of thousands of Afghans each year," it said in a press release.
"The United States stands with the Afghan people in response to the Taliban’s announcement," it said, adding the U.S. supports the Afghan security forces who are standing against the Taliban and terrorist groups that seek to destroy Afghan society.
Urging the Taliban to end its armed attacks and work constructively for Afghanistan’s future, the statement emphasized that more violence will not bring peace and security to the country.
Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on Saturday called on the Taliban to take part in forthcoming district and parliamentary elections in the war-ravaged country.
In a blow to potential peace talks, the Taliban on Wednesday announced yet another annual spring offensive dubbed ''Al-Khandaq'' (trench).
Zabihullah Mujahed, the Taliban spokesman, in a social media post cited four main "reasons", one of which was a clear reference to an aerial raid by security forces on a religious school in a Taliban-controlled area of Kunduz province earlier this month that caused multiple civilian casualties and killed scores of top Taliban commanders, according to local media and officials.
Afghan officials insist the air raid only killed suspected militants. But the Taliban and local media outlets said more than 100 civilians were killed, most of them children.