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KANDAHAR: US air strikes targeted Taliban fighters outside a key city in southern Afghanistan over the weekend, officials said Monday, with violence in the country surging despite ongoing peace talks.

Heavy fighting erupted on the outskirts of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, after the Taliban attacked several outposts in the area. The US "conducted several targeted strikes in Helmand" to defend Afghan troops as they came under attack, said military spokesman Colonel Sonny Leggett.

Under a deal the Taliban signed with Washington in February, the insurgents are not supposed to hit urban areas and are meant to keep violence down. The US committed to pulling all foreign troops from the country by next May in return for Taliban security pledges and an agreement to begin talks with the Afghan government in Qatar.

General Scott Miller, the head of the American military deployment, warned the Taliban to "immediately stop their offensive actions in Helmand Province and reduce their violence around the country". "It is not consistent with the US-Taliban agreement and undermines the ongoing Afghan Peace Talks," Miller said in a statement.