NATO and Afghan forces have been wiping the floor with the Taliban in Kandahar in recent weeks, using new high-precision mobile rockets to rout insurgents from their long-held strongholds, NATO commanders, Afghan officials and local residents tell the New York Times. Western officials believe the Taliban has been dealt a strong enough blow that it will have trouble returning to what was once its base.
NATO commanders speak cautiously of their success, and note that there have been setbacks elsewhere. But “Afghans will tell you, if you have a peaceful Kandahar, you will have a peaceful Afghanistan,” says the British commander who has been overseeing the Kandahar operation. “I think only time will tell.” One task force commander in a nearby rural district says attacks have fallen from 50 per week in August to about 15 per week now. “A lot [of insurgents] are getting killed,” he says. “They are not receiving support from the local population.” (Read more Kandahar stories.)