London, June 2 : Commander of British forces in Afghanistan's Helmand province, Brig Mark Carleton-Smith has claimed that the Taliban was now on the brink of defeat, as scores of them have been killed, most of them in southern and eastern Afghanistan, over the past two years.
He said that the new "precise and surgical" tactics have killed an estimated 7000 Taliban over the past two years, and made it extremely difficult for Pakistan-based Taliban leaders to prosecute the campaign.
"The Taliban are much weaker. The tide is clearly ebbing not flowing for them. Their chain of command is disrupted and they are short of weapons and ammunition. We have seen increasing fissures of stress through the whole organization that has led to internecine and fratricidal strife between competing groups," The Telegraph quoted him as saying from "16-Air Assault Brigade" headquarters in Lashkar Gah.
Last year's killing of Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban chief, most likely by the Special Boat Service, was "a seminal moment in dislocating" their operation in southern Afghanistan, said Brig Carleton-Smith, who has extensive operational experience in Afghanistan and Iraq and has commanded elite Army troops.
According to him, the Taliban fighters are apparently becoming increasingly unpopular in Helmand, where they are reliant on the local population for food and water. They have also been subjected to strikes by the RAF's American-made Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle and the guided Royal Artillery missile system, which have both proved a major battlefield success, he said and added: "I can therefore judge the Taliban insurgency a failure at the moment. We have reached the tipping point."
The task is now to regenerate the economy to win over the civilian population of Helmand, the base for 8,000 British soldiers, he added.