NATO general warns of more bloodshed in Afghanistan

NATO-led forces have dealt significant losses to the Taliban in Afghanistan but the rebels are spoiling for a tough fight in the spring to regain their sanctuaries, the alliance`s top commander warned.

Last Updated: Feb 09, 2011, 21:34 PM IST

Brussels: NATO-led forces have dealt
significant losses to the Taliban in Afghanistan but the
rebels are spoiling for a tough fight in the spring to regain
their sanctuaries, the alliance`s top commander warned.

General David Petraeus said intelligence services
picked up a degree of "discord" and "friction" between
frontline rebels and Taliban rear commanders trying to
convince them to fight through the winter.

But the rebels will likely seek to regain their
territories in the spring thaw, Petraeus told NATO TV in an
interview broadcast today.

"When you`re on the offensive taking away areas that
matter to the insurgents, the insurgents have to fight back
and violence goes up. It`s a necessary part of any counter
insurgency," he said.

"They`ve sustained significant losses, but this is a
resilient insurgency and we have our eyes very wide open and
we clearly recognise the challenges that lie ahead," Petraeus
said.

Last year was the deadliest one for Western troops in
Afghanistan since the US-led overthrow of the Taliban regime
in 2001, with 711 foreign soldiers killed.

NATO officials have attributed the higher death toll
to the US decision to deploy 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan
as part of an effort to take back the initiative in the war.

The alliance has 140,000 troops on the ground and
hopes to step up training of Afghan security forces to build
up their numbers from 256,000 to 306,000 by the end of the
year.

NATO plans to begin handing over the combat lead to
Afghan troops in the first half of this year, with the goal of
giving them full security responsibility across the country by
2014.

PTI