Taliban leader vows winter war spreading to north

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Dubai, Nov 1: A Taliban leader vowed in a video posted on the Internet that the insurgents would expand their fighting to the north of Afghanistan during the country's hard winter.

''God willing, ... the war will continue in the winter with the same intensity as now,'' Mullah Mansour Dadullah said on the video posted on an Islamist Web site yesterday.

''Our operations are blazing across the southern provinces, and we shall reach the northern provinces in the same manner,'' said Mullah Mansour in Pashto on the video, which carried Arabic subtitles.

Mullah Mansour took over as commander of Taliban forces in the southern province of Helmand in May from his brother, Mullah Dadullah, who was killed in a raid by British forces.

Mainly British and US forces have been engaged in almost daily battles with Taliban rebels in Helmand.

Mullah Mansour said the Taliban also had contact with insurgents in Iraq.

''We exchange information on planning attacks against the enemy, as well as on weapons that are developed on the battlefronts,'' the Taliban leader told an off-camera interviewer as he sat in what appeared to be a tent.

The video was produced by al Qaeda's media arm As-Sahab, which said it was made during a visit to the Taliban commander by al Qaeda's leader in Afghanistan, Mustafa Abu al-Yazid. The recording carried the date of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, which ended in around mid-October.

Mansour denied the Taliban received aid from Iran.

''This is a claim that the Americans make to justify their defeat to the world,'' he said.

Taliban have launched a spate of suicide bombings, after claims by Afghan, NATO and US-led coalition forces to have subdued insurgents in an aggressive spring campaign against Taliban strongholds in the south and east.

Reuters>

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