Afghan forces launch push against Taliban

KABUL - Government forces have launched operations against the Taliban in 18 provinces of Afghanistan as fighting has intensified since the start of the insurgents' spring offensive this month, the ministry of defense said on Saturday.
The operations, backed by air power and artillery have been concentrated in areas where the Taliban insurgents have been aggressively challenging government forces seeking to reassert control over key districts.
Eighty anti-government fighters, including nine from Islamic State have been killed over the past 24 hours in the east, while six soldiers have been killed, a defense ministry statement said..
The Taliban, which has ruled out joining peace talks while foreign troops remain in Afghanistan, announced the start of its spring offensive on April 12, pledging large-scale attacks against government strongholds as well as suicide bombings and targeted assassinations.
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