US army: Taliban not spent force

Afghanistan's Taliban rebels are not a spent force despite their failure to disrupt the weekend's parliamentary vote, a top US general has said.

    Over 50 US soldiers have died in Afghanistan this year

    General Jason Kamiya, second in command of the 20,000

    strong US-led force in the country, told reporters at Bagram

    Airbase on Thursday that he was "not ready to sign up to the fact that Taliban are

    crumbling".

     

    "There still will be an enemy insurgency next spring," he

    added.

     

    US and Afghan officials said at the beginning of the year that

    the Taliban's days as a threat were numbered, but rebel-related

    violence since then has made this the bloodiest year since the

    Taliban were toppled in 2001.

     

    Although the rebels failed to carry out any major attacks on

    polling day on Sunday, Kamiya said the Taliban would keep up their

    attacks throughout the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which begins

    on 4 October.

     

    "The Taliban had the intent to disrupt the elections, but not

    the capability," he said.

     

    "They realised that the Afghan constitution, then the

    presidential elections then the election of parliament was one more

    nail in the coffin." 

    More bloodshed expected

     

    Taliban-related violence has been
    maximum this year since 2001

    Kamiya's comments came two days after the US military commander

    in Afghanistan, General Karl Eikenberry, also warned of more

    bloodshed in coming weeks.

     

    This year has also been the deadliest for US troops in the

    country, with over 50 being killed by hostile fire.

     

    But while Taliban fighters were increasing recruitment in

    villages, there were signs that rebels were fracturing as a fighting

    force, Kamiya said.

     

    "There is intent to coordinate actions in east and south, but we

    see signs of fractures between moderates and those who want to stick

    with jihad," he said.

     

    "We see signs of young fighters questioning the leaders...

     Mulla Umar's support is beginning to fracture," he said, referring

    to fugitive Taliban leader Mulla Muhammad Umar.

     

    Fighting off criticism

     

    Kamiya also dismissed reports that Afghanistan has been

    infiltrated by foreign fighters who were transferring skills from

    Iraq.

     

    "

    We've seen no evidence in Afghanistan to support the fact that

    foreign fighters operate in Afghanistan," he added.

     

    "

    We've seen no evidence in Afghanistan to support the fact that

    foreign fighters operate in Afghanistan"

    General Jason Kamiya,
    US-led forces, Afghanistan

    Kamiya hit back at President Hamid Karzai's attack on US

    military policies this week, after Karzai said the US should not

    enter Afghan homes to search for suspects and should curb its use of

    airstrikes.

     

    Kamiya said the US was doing everything it could to avoid

    civilian casualties and restricted its use of airstrikes accordingly

    and had stepped up cooperation with Afghan security forces to reduce

    the number of US troops searching Afghan houses.

     

    "

    There's not indiscriminate use of military power, and we're

    doing as many verifications as we can before we give a lethal effect

    to people," he added.

    SOURCE: AFP


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