Fighters with Afghanistan's Taliban militia walk with their weapons in Ahmad Aba district on the outskirts of Gardez, the capital of Paktia province, on July 18, 2017. Civilian deaths in Afghanistan hit a new high in the first half of 2017 with 1,662 killed and more than 3,500 injured, the United Nations said July 17. The majority of the victims were killed by anti-government forces -- including the Taliban and in attacks claimed by the Islamic State, the report said.
It's already Asia's longest-running major insurgency, and it shows no signs of slowing. The Taliban are in the midst of a 16-year war against the NATO-backed government in Kabul as they seek to reconquer Afghanistan. As part of its annual spring offensive, besides staging attacks across the country, this year the movement has directed its energies toward the capture of the provincial capital of Farah province in an effort to replicate its brief takeover of Kunduz in 2015. The Taliban’s battlefield successes would seem to negate the need to pursue negotiations with the group's Western-backed adversaries in Kabul. But peace might face an even bigger hurdle: the Taliban's acute internal divisions....
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