NATO commander fears falling on more Afghan territory to Taliban

LONDON: NATO commander has warned that the Taliban could recapture territory in southern Afghanistan won by British troops in fighting this summer. General Dan McNeill said the British soldiers had made “significant progress” in Helmand province but were facing difficulties securing gains and it was “likely” some of the ground would have to be taken again if the Taliban regrouped over the winter. Gen McNeill told the BBC: “We are pleased with the success we have had in Helmand province. That’s not to say we are declaring victory and moving on, we have just had significant progress.”

He added: “We are likely to have to do some of this work again simply because we haven’t had a good holding force. But it would be nice if the Afghan security forces could hold it, then there’s less of a chance we will have to do it again.” British soldiers have been fighting the Taliban at close quarters, especially in the fertile river valleys of northern Helmand. So far this year, 35 British soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan. The number of British troops in the area is due to increase next month to 7,700, more than double the initial deployment.

British military tactics are to drive the Taliban out, leaving Afghan national army troops to hold the ground to enable civil construction work to start. But it has taken much longer to train Afghan army and police forces than Nato countries hoped. The Taliban, meanwhile, are changing tactics by resorting to roadside bombs.-SANA

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Rubab Saleem

Rubab Saleem is Editor of Pakistan Times

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