Taliban commanders reluctant to go to battle zones: Report
Last Updated: Tuesday, February 22, 2011, 15:53
New York: Having suffered a series of defeats at the hands of US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan, Taliban's mid-level field commanders are reluctant to return to some battle zones despite pressure from their top leaders based in Pakistan, a media report said here Tuesday.

Many Taliban members had withdrawn to Pakistan after their defeats in Kandahar and Helmand, where American troop presence had increased by thousands, The New York Times reported.

The Taliban leadership based in Pakistan wanted them to go back and fight but many of the Taliban fighters were not keen on returning, it claimed.

"I have talked to some commanders and they are reluctant to fight," an unnamed 45-year-old Taliban commander, who has been with the Taliban since its founding in 1994, was quoted as saying.

"Definitely there is disagreement between the field commanders and the leaders over their demands to go and fight," he said.

In a meeting held earlier this month across the border in Pakistan, the leaders ordered each commander to send four to five men back into the home towns in Afghanistan to resume operations by planting bombs, he said.

"While commanders are worried for their lives, they have to go, or at least send some people," the Taliban member said.

His comments came amid reports of new tensions between the top Taliban leadership, which is believed to be based in the western Pakistani city of Quetta.

US army General David H Petraeus, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, had said last month that there were "numerous reports of unprecedented discord among the members of the Quetta Shura, the Taliban senior leadership body."

The unnamed Taliban commander said that even though they had suffered losses and were tired, they would not leave their country to foreigners.

"Compared to two years ago when people were willingly going to fight, that mood is reduced," he said. "We are tired of fighting and we say this among ourselves. But this is our vow, not to leave our country to foreigners."

He said the Taliban members were also weighing the option of peace talks but for that the foreign forces would have to leave first.

Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar had recently issued an audio tape calling on his men to keep fighting. "His words have a very powerful effect on us," the commander said, adding "We obey his orders, every Talib does, and we believe in him."


First Published: Tuesday, February 22, 2011, 15:53

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