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Taliban Set Out Spring Offensive Battle Strategy In Afghanistan

Afghan security officials patrol in an area during an operation against Taliban militants in Nad Ali district of Helmand Province on March 11.

Taliban forces in Afghanistan plan to extend their control of provinces in which they already have a heavy presence in the upcoming spring offensive, a spokesman told dpa news agency in an interview.

Zabihullah Mujahid said on April 3 that the militants will press their advantage during the campaign in the provinces of Helmand and Oruzgan in the south, Farah and Faryab in the west, and Sar-e Pul and Kunduz in the north.

U.S. military officials say the Western-backed government in Kabul controls less than 60 percent of the country.

Mujahid said the Taliban will form provincial commands instead of having units operating across several provinces as part of a new strategy.

He said the Taliban will focus on capturing provincial capitals.

Meanwhile, Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri told dpa that Afghan forces will focus on pushing insurgents out of their strongholds.

Part of that effort will include increasing the strength of the army’s elite special forces. He said the force should be doubled in size by 2020.

Top U.S. military commanders have said the war against Taliban fighters in Afghanistan has ground to a stalemate.

Some 8,400 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan since most NATO forces withdrew in 2014, leaving security mainly to Afghan forces.

Based on reporting by dpa