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.