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Taliban fail to capture major cities: NATO

AT-KABUL: Taliban insurgents made an unusual bid to capture a provincial capital, a failed assault that underscored their heightened boldness in recent months, an official said Saturday.

“We think we’re seeing an effort by the Taliban to absolutely capture a provincial capital and we think they realize that they’re coming close to the end of the year and they want to do it before the winter sets in,” said the NATO deputy chief of staff for communications.

Brig. Gen. Charles H. Cleveland told Pentagon reporters via video conference from Kabul the Taliban had not been successful. While the Afghan forces’ effort had not been always perfect, they successfully defended each of their major population centers, he said.

However, he conceded the ANDSF still faced challenges and NATO was going to continue to work with them to help them improve. ANDSF performance this year, he claimed, had been better than last year.

“There’s been gradual progress, and we see it at the tactical level but we also see it is at the institutional level.  But again, that does not mean that things are perfect by any stretch and it doesn’t mean that the war is over,” Cleveland added.

“It does mean is that we do recognize that this is a tough fight and we do still have a lot of challenges in front of us that we’ll continue to work at,” he added.

Responding to a question, Cleveland said right now, the Taliban control or influence about 10 percent of the Afghan population.  “We believe that the government controls about two-thirds of the population. Then the balance between the two is really the contested area,” he added.

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