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Taliban launches massive offensive after missed deadline for US troop withdrawal

Taliban forces attacked Afghan military positions across Afghanistan on Tuesday as part of an apparent new offensive in response to the U.S. missing a May 1 troop withdrawal deadline set by former President TrumpDonald TrumpGOP-led Maricopa County board decries election recount a 'sham' Analysis: Arpaio immigration patrol lawsuit to cost Arizona county at least 2 million Conservatives launch 'anti-cancel culture' advocacy organization MORE.

Reuters reported that attacks occurred in at least seven provinces, including Helmand Province, where local officials told the news service that some checkpoints had been overtaken by the militants.

Tuesday's offensive comes just under four months before the Biden administration plans to conclude the withdrawal of all U.S. combat troops from the country, ending the United States' longest-running war while critics say leaving the country vulnerable to the Taliban taking power.

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A State Department spokesperson lamented that a return to violence in the country would be "senseless and tragic."

"We remind the Taliban that engaging in violence will not afford it legitimacy or durability. Engaging in serious negotiations to determine a political roadmap for Afghanistan’s future that leads to a just and durable settlement will," said a spokesperson for the State Department.

"As General [Austin] Miller made clear: the United States has the military means to respond forcefully to any attack on coalition forces and to support the ANDSF," the spokesperson continued.

The Hill has reached out to the Pentagon for comment as well.

"There was a thunderstorm of heavy weapons and blasts in the city and the sound of small arms was like someone was making popcorn," one resident of an area that came under attack by Taliban insurgents told Reuters.

"I took all my family members to the corner of the room, hearing the heavy blasts and bursts of gunfire as if it was happening behind our walls," the resident, Mulah Jan, added.

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Afghanistan's defense ministry told Reuters that at least 100 Taliban fighters had been killed in Tuesday's fighting so far, while not providing casualty figures for Afghan security forces. 

The offensive follows a car bombing on Friday that killed dozens of people in the Logar Province, as well as an explosive attack on an Afghan military base. 

--Updated at 4:55 p.m.