Now, Taliban extends reach to North Afghanistan

Written by: Anita Nair
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Kabul, Dec.16 (ANI): The roads heading south to Kabul and east to Tajikistan as well as north and west are no longer safe for Afghans, let alone Westerners, as the Taliban seems to have extended its control and reach in these areas.

Though the United States military is gambling heavily on a strategy aimed at breaking the back of the Taliban in their southern stronghold, it is doing so at the expense of other parts of the country, the New York Times reports.

Although the numbers of American and German troops in the north have more than doubled since last year, insecurity has spread. The Taliban are expanding their reach, and armed groups that purportedly support the government are terrorizing local people and hampering aid organizations, according to international aid workers, Afghan government officials, local residents and diplomats.

The growing fragility of the north highlights the limitations of the American effort here, hampered by waning political support at home and a fixed number of troops.

"The situation in the north has become much more difficult, a much stronger insurgency than we had before," said a senior Western diplomat, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the subject.

He added: "We have to get these better under control."

NATO's current strategy aims to transform many small militias into local police forces that would augment the often thin national police.

However, many local Afghan officials worry that the plan legitimizes the groups, some of which are made up of little more than thugs, and amounts to putting government uniforms on gunmen whose real loyalty is to their local strongman.

Meanwhile, the entagon will release a year-end review of the nearly nine-year war in Afghanistan on Thursday, and it seems certain to emphasize progress that has been made around the important southern city of Kandahar, whikle admitting that security in other critical areas of the country continues to deteriorate. (ANI)

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