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Afghan Troops Launch Offensive Against Taliban

Afghan security forces have launched a large offensive against the Taliban militants in the country's south before the group’s spring offensive.

The Defense Ministry said the operation, code-named Zolfiqar, began on February 16 in Helmand Province, a hotbed of the Taliban insurgency.

It said the operation would also target militants in districts in neighboring Kandahar, Farah, and Oruzgan provinces.

General Abdul Khaliq, who commands the operation, said: "This is a totally Afghan-planned and Afghan-led operation. It will continue until success is achieved."

The offensive, launched before the start of the fighting season in April or May, is the first major operation the Afghan security forces have launched since U.S. and NATO forces formally ended their combat mission at the end of 2014.

Based on reporting by AFP and dpa