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NATO Commander Expects More Taliban Attacks in Spring

Top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan General David Petraeus waits for the start of a round table meeting at a NATO summit in Lisbon, November 20, 2010 (file photo)
Top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan General David Petraeus waits for the start of a round table meeting at a NATO summit in Lisbon, November 20, 2010 (file photo)

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Lisa Bryant

NATO's top military commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, predicts an increase in fighting in Afghanistan with the arrival of spring. But in an interview on NATO TV, he also described divisions within the Taliban insurgency.

Asked whether fighting would intensify in the coming weeks, NATO's top commander, General David Petraeus, balanced his answer, noting the strengthened alliance force from last year's troop surge.

"We think there will be. Indeed, that has been the trend to this point, keeping in mind that when you have 110,000 more of us than we had a year ago, some 70,000 more Afghan forces and another 35,000 to 40,000 ISAF forces, we are obviously in many, many more places," said Petraeus.

As a result, Petraeus said, the Taliban insurgency is fighting back, ordering its troops to begin its spring offensive earlier this year than in the past. "Those orders have not been obeyed in all cases, so there is a degree of friction, there is a degree of discord that we have seen among the leaders themselves and also among those to whom they have given order that has not been characteristic in the past."

Experts cited by news agencies, however, say the Taliban is simply re-trenching in the face of greater numbers of NATO forces.

The release of Petraeus' broadcast remarks coincided with NATO reports of two more troop deaths, bringing the alliance's total casualties this month to 10.

Last year marked NATO's deadliest in its nearly decade-long war in Afghanistan, with more than 700 alliance troops killed.

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