Taliban 'stepping up resistance' against Operation Moshtarak

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Marjah (Afghanistan), Feb 20(ANI): British troops have admitted they are facing strong resistance from Taliban insurgents to the big military offensive, Operation Moshtarak, being conducted by UK and its allies in southern Afghanistan.

Major General Gordon Messenger, however, said the increase in activity "in no way" threatened the success of the mission to clear and secure former Taliban strongholds around Marjah and Nad-e-Ali.

He said the "dislocation" of Taliban's top command structure achieved by the forces in the initial stages of the operation was continuing to have an impact on insurgent capabilities.

"The level of resistance has increased as expected. We expected after the enemy had time to catch its breath, they would up the level of resistance, and that's happened. There are now more incidents directed against the ISAF and Afghan forces than there were, but they are still uncoordinated," The Daily Express quoted Major General Messenger, as saying.

The resistance being faced by soldiers from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Afghan government forces is largely in the form of small groups of militants shooting from a distance.

Meanwhile, NATO and Afghan government checkpoints have been set up around the Marjah district in an attempt to stop Taliban fighters from slipping out of the area among the fleeing civilian population.

Thousands of Afghan security forces are also taking part in the offensive, which include troops from the Afghan National Army as well as about 100 specialists from Afghanistan's elite police unit - the Afghan National Civil Order Police (ANCOP).

This is the first time that Afghan troops have been engaged with the international force on such a scale and Commanders hope it will help reassure locals in Taliban hotspots that their ordeal s almost over. (ANI)

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