The commander of Canadian forces in Afghanistan says the Taliban has begun its spring offensive against NATO forces.

Brigadier-General Tim Grant told CP in an interview that the offensive is taking the form of such tactics as roadside bombings and suicide attacks rather than conventional fighting.

The Taliban is resorting to "true terrorist activities," which kill more Afghan civilians than coalition troops, he said at the Canadian Forces forward operating base at Sperwan Ghar in the Panjwaii district west of Kandahar city.

"I think what we're seeing right now the best the Taliban can muster in light of the operations we have conducted," said Grant.

"What's really important is that those operations set the conditions for reconstruction and development in these areas."

Last week, two human rights groups, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, criticized the Taliban for its tactics, sayingit isengaging inwar crimes becauseit deliberately targets or indiscriminately kills civilians through bombing attacks.

Canada has more than 2,000 troops in Afghanistan, mostly in the volatile southern province of Kandahar. Fifty-four Canadian troops have been killed since Canada first sent troops there in early 2002.

The troops are part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, a coalition of roughly 30,000 soldiers from 37 countries.

NATO is in the midst of Operation Achilles, a military operation in northern regions of Helmand province designed to clear the area of Taliban insurgents so that reconstruction can begin.

Last week, the Liberals in Ottawa tabled a motion that would force the Harper government to begin withdrawing Canadian troops from Afghanistan by February 2009.

The motion followed the deaths of eight Canadian soldiers in one week due to roadside bombs. Two coalition soldiers, a Dutch infantryman and a U.S. soldier, were killed in Afghanistan Friday.

With files from the Associated Press