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US prepared to assist Afghan govt. in defending Taliban during spring offensive

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Washington: Following the announcement of ‘spring offensive’ by the Afghan Taliban, the United States has said that it is assisting Kabul in defending itself against the insurgent group.

“We always see the announcement of the spring fighting season. We are preparing, as we have been, to assist the government in defending against the Taliban. We have – working through both U.S. and coalition forces, we have been working with Afghan forces on the ground to improve their capability, their ability to fight and push back,” said U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner during a press briefing here.

The Afghan Taliban had yesterday announced large-scale attacks on enemy positions would be employed across the country during the offensive which they dubbed as “Operation Omari” in honour of the movement’s late founder Mullah Omar, whose death was announced last year.

Toner said that Washington was closely working with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Afghan security forces to ensure that all necessary training and equipments were secured to preserve the gains made over the last 14 years.

Asserting that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s ( NATO) Resolute Support Mission on the ground was present and would continue doing so, he said that Washington’s goal is to support and build up the capacity for Afghan forces to in providing security in the country.

“And recognizing the ongoing security challenges, the decision was made, of course, to maintain a level of troops, to keep the 5,500 American troops in Afghanistan beyond 2016 in order to continue to carry out that essential mission on the ground. And that includes counterterrorism operations against remnants of al-Qaida and, of course, ISIL and other terrorist groups in the region,” Toner added.

Meanwhile, the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANDSF), the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had said that the security forces would appear stronger in the coming fighting season.

The annual spring offensive normally marks the start of the fighting season.

The insurgent group has been waging war against the state since being toppled from power in 2001. (ANI)

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