Saturday, December 23, 2006

[taliban] almost ready for spring offensive

The Taliban's efforts are focused on next spring, after the harsh winter weather eases, while NATO forces aim to "nip this evil in the bud", using the province of Kandahar as their strategic base. From there, they want to contain and encircle the Taliban in their bases all over southwestern Afghanistan.

Central to this plan is the use of air power, even though the Taliban have come down from the mountains and entrenched themselves in civilian populations in carefully chosen pockets. They also have a headquarters in the rugged mountains of Baghran Valley in Helmand province.

To date, the Taliban have mostly engaged their pawns against NATO, with key leaders based safely in the tribal belt between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Once the final push starts, though, they will move to the fringes of the southwestern Pashtun heartland, Baghran, in preparation for the removal of President Hamid Karzai's administration in Kabul.

However, NATO spokesman Mark Laity does not agree with this assessment. "Their [Taliban] intent was to hold the Panjwayee [district of Kandahar province] as a necessary part of their plan to encircle or take Kandahar city. In Helmand [province] they certainly intended to take Sangin, Musa Qala and Nowzad in the north and Garmsir in the south, with the desire to disrupt and isolate Lashkhar Gah [the capital of Helmand province]. In all of these respects, they failed," Laity told Asia Times Online.

Article continues here …

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