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Taliban2 (1)The Afghan Taliban have announced the start of their warm-weather fighting season, an annual declaration marking the launch of a violent summer.

In an email to media organisations on Tuesday, the militants said the so-called spring offensive had begun at 5 AM.

The campaign, expected this year to be long and bloody, is called “Operation Omari” in honour of Taliban founder, Mullah Mohammad Omar, who died three years ago, the announcement said.

It says waging jihad against the American invaders is a holy obligation. The war is in its 15th year.

The group has been riven by infighting since Mullah Omar’s death became public last summer. New leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor had run the insurgency in his name for more than two years.

More than 11,000 civilians were killed or wounded in 2015.