Top NATO commander in Afghanistan predicts tough fight in 2011
The top NATO commander in Afghanistan said Tuesday that US-led coalition forces made "impressive progress" in the fight against Taliban insurgents in 2010, but predicted a tough fight this year, dpa reported.
In his assessment of the situation in Afghanistan before about 130,000 NATO-led troops, US General David Petraeus said the coalition forces halted a downward-spiraling security situation in large areas of Afghanistan last year, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement.
Petreaus said that ISAF and Afghan forces made "hard-won progress" in the Taliban's traditional power bases of Kandahar and Helmand provinces and inflicted enormous losses on the mid-level insurgent leaders throughout the country.
"To be sure, nothing about the past year's achievements was easy. To the contrary, our successes entailed hard fighting, tough losses and periodic setbacks along the way," he said.
A total of 711 international troops were killed in the Afghan conflict last year, the bloodiest period since the ouster of the Taliban regime in late 2001.
"Despite the achievement of 2010, there is much hard work to be done in 2011 and, as always in Afghanistan, the way ahead will be difficult," the American general said, adding the insurgents would fight hard "to prevent us from accomplishing these tasks."
This year has been termed as vital in the fight against Taliban, in part because several NATO countries, including the US, decided to begin the gradual withdrawal of their troops and transfer security responsibility to Afghan forces in a process to be completed in 2014.
Petraeus also said that there were numerous reports of "unprecedented discord" among the members of Taliban leadership in Quetta, Pakistan as a result of the coalition's military achievements in Afghanistan.