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Afghan Taliban Announces Launch Of Annual Spring Offensive

AFGHANISTAN -- An Afghan police officer stands guard in front of the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, January 23, 2018

The Afghan Taliban has announced the launch of its annual spring offensive.

In a statement released online on April 25, the militant group said the offensive, dubbed Al-Khandaq, or The Trench, will be "mainly focusing on crushing, killing, and capturing American invaders." The Americans' "internal supporters" -- the Afghan government and troops -- are considered secondary priorities.

The statement said the offensive was organized by the Military Commission of the Taliban. It is named after the Battle Of Khandaq, or Battle Of The Trench, during which an estimated 3,000 Muslim men dug trenches around Medina in Saudi Arabia in 627, and survived a month-long siege by non-Muslim Arabs and Jews.

The Taliban announcement comes amid a new wave of attacks across Afghanistan.

At least 11 Afghan soldiers and police officers were killed on April 24 in separate Taliban attacks in the Farah and Ghazni provinces.

On April 23, Taliban militants attacks in western Afghanistan killed 18 soldiers and police officers.

Separately, an April 22 suicide bombing in Kabul claimed by the Islamic State group killed a total of 60 people.

Based on reporting by AP and dpa