Taliban Staging Their Own Surge, British Troops Taking 40 Attacks A Day.

by Daniel Russ on May 17, 2010

British Combat Troops Disembark In Afghanistan

“A coalition forces soldier shelters after a fierce battle in Helmand province

British troops in Afghanistan are coming under the fiercest and most sustained assault since the start of the conflict nine years ago, with coalition forces subjected to more than 40 attacks each day in March: double the rate of a year ago. Attacks by the Taliban between September 2009 and March 2010 leapt by 83 per cent compared with the same period last year, according to a new report released this month by the US Government Accountability Office.

This in turn is greater than the 75 per cent increase between 2008 and 2009, when the Taliban launched 21,000 attacks. Worse, the violence is expected to grow even more ferocious in the coming months as US and British forces fight to retake Taliban-held territory in the south of the country.

Ineffective governance and money from the opium trade are cited as factors behind the continuing resilience of the insurgency.

The prediction comes as pressure mounts on President Hamid Karzai to lead by example, with corruption a key area in talks held with the Prime Minister, David Cameron, yesterday.

William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, said yesterday after his talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington on Friday: “This may be a decisive year in Afghanistan… Progress is being made, but now we have to see an effective political process as well… and that’s where our efforts in British relations with President Karzai and his government will come over the coming weeks in a strongly co-ordinated way.”

Professor Anatol Lieven, of the Department of War Studies, King’s College London, said yesterday that the outlook was gloomy. “The increase in violence is a sign that support for the Taliban has increased, that the Taliban have had no problems in replenishing their weapon supplies.”

He added: “The choice is between fighting on indefinitely or begin serious attempts at talks with the Taliban.”

The death toll of British soldiers continues to rise, with Corporal Christopher Harrison, 26, 40 Commando Royal Marines, becoming the 285th to die in the conflict when he was killed in an explosion last Sunday. This year, 137 British soldiers have been seriously wounded in action and hundreds more admitted to hospital.

It could get worse in the coming months, with the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar being the target of what commanders are calling the “most difficult and the most important” operation since the war began.

He added: “The Taliban’s level of activity has been increasing since 2005 and they have developed momentum which they are maintaining.”

British forces have blunted the Taliban’s ambitions, rather than destroying them, and more troops could be needed, he said. “War is not an exact science in which you can say we need this number and then we’ll be able to defeat the enemy … If the number is not [enough], we need to be prepared to deploy more people to deal with that situation.”

Source: The Independant

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