Afghan Taliban "not on the ropes yet": NATO chief

Washington, Feb 2 (ANI): Lieutenant General David Rodriguez, head of the NATO Joint Command and Deputy Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, has warned that the Taliban is far from being defeated and would soon change its strategy to carry out political assassinations.

At a Pentagon briefing on Tuesday, General Rodriguez claimed that foreign forces have made progress in Afghanistan this year, but added: "The Taliban's not on the ropes yet," Fox News reports.

He further warned that the Taliban would change its strategies during the remaining months of the winter season, typically a slow period for attacks, and make plans to assassinate local officials who have cooperated with allied forces.

"They're going to come back with a different type of strategy... which I believe is going to be focused on the leadership much more than it ever has, the political leadership... and the government leaders. They will not be as direct in their confrontations as they were last year, I believe," Rodriguez said.

He also believes that the tactics that the insurgent group might employ, include the use of assassination squads and more improvised explosives devices (IEDS) like roadside bombs.

Pentagon figures have claimed that IED attacks jumped from roughly 9,000 in 2009 to nearly 14,500 in 2010. The makeshift landmines killed 268 American troops in 2010, 100 more than the previous year and the number of service members wounded by the devices was up 178 percent to 3,366, the report said.

He further said that before withdrawing foreign forces from Kabul, Afghan security forces need to be properly trained.

Although the Afghan Army has improved over the last year, the police are still in bad shape because of shortages of trainers, high rates of illiteracy, corruption, drug abuse and desertion. (ANI)

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