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UN: All Parties Must Protect Afghans in Spring Offensive

The Taliban has pledged to launch a spring offensive against the U.S.-led coalition and its allies in Afghanistan. The militant group says the operation will begin Sunday, but did not say how long the surge will last.

In a statement released Saturday, the Taliban said they plan to target military bases and convoys, as well as Afghan officials, including members of the peace council.

The insurgents urged Afghan citizens to stay away from the centers and activities of the coalition forces.

The announcement of the militant operation comes one day after senior officers with the U.S.-led coalition and Western diplomats in Afghanistan warned they expected a surge in militant attacks.

The Associated Press quoted a NATO official, speaking on condition of anonymity, as saying that the Taliban's announcement Saturday is a "sign of their impotence and desperation."

The official said NATO expects the Taliban will try to gain a propaganda victory through coordinated attacks and that the coalition has tightened security.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.