Afghan forces launch fresh offensive against Taliban

               By Shadi Khan Saif<br><br>KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) - Afghan forces on Thursday opened a fresh front against the Taliban in the northwestern Badghis province bordering Turkmenistan, killing 39 militants, officials and local media confirmed.<br><br>Badghis governor's spokesman Jamshed Shahabi told Anadolu Agency the operation was launched in the restive Ab Qamari district, saying 28 militants were wounded.<br><br>He said three soldiers were also killed and four others injured in the exchange of fire. <br><br>The operation would be extended to  Qades, Muqar, and Bala Murghab districts as well, he added. <br><br>The fresh push comes as Turkmenistan authorities have launched a campaign to register army reservists -- nearly all men under 50 -- amid concerns about militants in neighboring Afghanistan, the local Azadi radio reported a day earlier. <br><br>It quoted an official from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) -- which includes Russia and several other former Soviet republics but not Turkmenistan -- saying there was a danger of a &quot;powerful extremist group&quot; appearing along Afghanistan's borders with Turkmenistan and Tajikistan.<br><br>Separately, the Taliban have issued a second statement in connection with the stalled peace process. The rebels charged the U.S. for aiming long-term stay and continuation of the war in Afghanistan.<br><br>Afghanistan's National Security Adviser Hamdullah Muhib, and the spy chief, Masoum Stanikzai, held a joint meeting with ambassadors of China, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in Kabul Thursday to discuss joint measures for combating terrorism and regional cooperation.<br><br> 

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