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Afghans 'may swing to Taliban' says Nato commander

London Independent / Helen McCormack | October 9 2006

Nato's commander in Afghanistan has warned that the country is at a tipping point and that the majority of Afghans will begin supporting Taliban militants unless conditions improve in the country in the next six months.

General David Richards, said up to 70 per cent of Afghans might prefer an "austere and unpleasant" life under the Taliban rather than endure the current levels of fighting for years to come. The British general called for more troops so that he could harness the "military victories" to date and "exploit" the opportunities that winter might provide in defeating insurgents.

"We have created an opportunity, following the intense fighting that left over 500 militants dead in the southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand. If we do not take advantage of this, then you can pour an additional 10,000 troops next year and we would not succeed because we would have lost by then the consent of the people," he said.

General Richards said he wanted to see an additional 2,500 troops to form a reserve battalion, to help speed up reconstruction and development efforts.

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