Afghan war to escalate in 2011: NATO

There is no end to the fighting season; we need to keep pressure on the Taliban, ISAF said.

Updated: Dec 27, 2010, 18:06 PM IST

Kabul: A senior officer of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said Monday that the war in Afghanistan would escalate in 2011 as the coalition pursues militants.

"There is no end to the fighting season; we need to keep pressure on the Taliban all over the country," ISAF spokesman Brigadier General Joseph Blotz said. "We will see more violence in 2011."

He spoke the same day that the ISAF reported another casualty in the bloodiest year it has seen since the US-led invasion of 2001.

One of its soldiers was killed Monday by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan, it said, without revealing the victim`s nationality or the location of the attack.

Most of the troops stationed in the south are from the US, Britain and Canada.

The countries taking part in the ISAF have poured troops into the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar, traditional Taliban strongholds, reporting some progress in routing the militants.

But fighting and insurgent attacks have continued throughout the country this year, affecting some previously peaceful regions.

"While we still expect very tough fighting in the weeks and months ahead, we also have now started to shift to the hold phase in many areas of the country," the German general said.

Afghan and coalition forces have been able to stop the insurgents` momentum in some areas and reverse it in others, he said.

"Now, it`s all about solidifying those gains and not stopping our activities over wintertime," he said.

Afghan and coalition forces killed 384 rebel fighters and captured 2,300 in the past 90 days, Blotz said. He claimed 880 insurgent leaders had been killed or captured during the same period.

Nearly 150,000 international forces are currently based in the country, fighting the Taliban insurgency, which is increasingly expanding in its ninth year.

Fighting has escalated in the north this year as US forces pressured the militants in the south.

At least 705 international troops have died in 2010, compared with 521 in 2009.

More than 2,400 civilians were killed in the first 10 months of the year, according to the UN.

IANS