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US Confident of Victory in Afghanistan - 2003-10-07

Two years after the start of the U.S. war against Afghanistan's former Taleban regime, special American envoy Zalmay Khalilzad says attacks by resurgent Taleban fighters are expected to worsen in the weeks ahead. But the United States still remains confident of eventual victory.

Speaking in Kabul Tuesday, Mr. Khalilzad said the United States is bracing for the possibility that the Taleban insurgency in Afghanistan's south and east is about to grow in ferocity.

"We know the Taleban have been more active in recent weeks and months, and there are indications that they are planning even larger attacks, more spectacular attacks, perhaps," he said. "And our forces and our coalition partners are prepared to prevent and respond to any increased Taleban activities."

His remarks come on the second anniversary of the start of the U.S. military campaign to overthrow the Taleban.

Along with Afghan allies, the United States deposed the religiously extremist government after it refused to surrender leaders of the al-Qaida terror network, accused of the devastating 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

Remnants of the Taleban have continued to oppose Afghanistan's new transitional government in a guerrilla-style insurgency.

But despite the anticipated expansion of insurgent attacks, Mr. Khalilzad - who has been nominated to serve as the next U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan - believes the Taleban militants will sooner or later face defeat.

"We'll persist," said Zalmay Khalilzad. "We think time is not with them, because what they stand for, as their attacks indicate, is not what the people of Afghanistan would, not what the people of any country would want."

While U.S. forces in Afghanistan are concentrating their efforts on the insurgency, other parts of the country are facing a different type of security problem.

Feuding local commanders, allied nominally with the central government, continue to battle each other in some provinces.

More remote regions are also facing terror attacks, and much of the nation is plagued by banditry.

In order to help the transitional government combat these problems, the NATO military alliance has now approved plans to expand its peace-keeping presence beyond the capital Kabul and out into the provinces.

Their first missions are expected to involve the guarding of reconstruction projects going on throughout the war-ravaged country.