NATO says no Afghan winter lull in fight with Taliban
NATO forces said on Monday they would not let up the fight against Taliban insurgents during the Afghan winter and coordinated operations with the Pakistani army would likely hamper the militants' traditional rest from combat, Reuters reported.
Violence rose in eastern Afghanistan in the spring and summer this year as ceasefires between Pakistan and militants on its side of the border gave insurgents more freedom to attack international forces on the Afghan side.
But as those peace deals have broken down and the Pakistani army has gone on the offensive, NATO-led forces see the winter months as an opportunity to apply pressure on the militants.
U.S. troops from the 101st Airborne, which specialises in helicopter air assaults, have already stepped up operations against insurgent positions before the winter fully sets in, their deputy commander told Reuters on Monday.
"Usually here, because of the weather, people hibernate. But now because we're the 101st Airborne Division and we have the mobility, we plan on going after those sanctuaries (in Afghanistan) where the enemy may be trying to wait out the winter," U.S. Brigadier General James McConville said.
"The bottom line is, we do not want the enemy to be allowed to rest in Afghanistan during the winter," he said.
But while many Taliban fighters stay in Afghanistan, many others make their way to Pakistan to sit out the cold months.
Even though heavy snows and poor visibility hamper the use of air power, particularly helicopters, as in previous years, NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) sees the winter as an opportunity to strike militarily and forge ahead with development projects to try to win hearts and minds.