Copenhagen: NATO forces in Afghanistan
are set to intensify the campaign against Taliban strongholds
in the coming weeks, the head of the military alliance said.
"I share the point of view of American military
leaders on the intensification of fighting in the coming weeks
and months," NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told
Danish channel TV2 News in an interview broadcast yesterday.
"We are in a very decisive phase at the moment. We
have sent more soldiers to Afghanistan, where we are attacking
Taliban strongholds, which results in more fighting, and
unfortunately more losses," he said.
The escalation in combat operations was part of the
strategy by international forces to dislodge the Taliban from
their strongholds in Helmand province and Kandahar, Rasmussen
The escalation is "unfortunately necessary for us to
be able to transfer responsibility for security to the
Afghans," he said.
Rasmussen said the number of troops on the ground -
around 120,000 - was sufficient to eliminate pockets of
"The Taliban have no chance of winning on the military
level," he said.
"But the solution to the conflict in Afghanistan is
not just a military one. If the country is to be stable when
we leave, it is necessary to build a sustainable society in
terms of education, health and economy," he said.
While welcoming the commitment of a handover to Afghan
security forces by the end of 2014, Rasmussen warned against a
"That would mean the return of the Taliban. And all
our efforts would be in vain," he said.
While acknowledging the political pressure for a fixed
withdrawal date, "we must stay and finish the job and not
allow an open field for the return of the Taliban," Rasmussen
"The (international community) is agreed that we will
not leave Afghanistan before being certain that the Afghans
can ensure their own security," he said.
Rasmussen, a former Danish Prime Minister, today makes
an official visit to Denmark, which has suffered the highest
proportional casualty rate among foreign forces in