Taliban officials say the extremist group has appointed a new military chief as the insurgents try to gain ground rather than talk peace under a new leadership.

The officials said in telephone interviews over the weekend that the appointment of Maulvi Ibrahim Sadar, once a close ally of Taliban founder Mullah Mohammed Omar, heralds a commitment to confrontation at a time when multiple governments are trying to coax the Taliban to the negotiating table.

Sadar is a battle-hardened commander, who gained prominence among Taliban foot soldiers following the movement's overthrow in 2001. The two officials both spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly for the Taliban.

Sadar's appointment coincides with an uptick in Taliban attacks against Afghanistan's security forces.