Then, in Afghanistan, a story that shows that the winter is no longer down season for fighting. That dynamic has been changing dramatically over the past several years. Another new, or new-ish development, a drone attack inside Afghanistan, in Helmand, to be precise, that killed 16 people. They â€œseemed to be insurgentsâ€ villagers told the New York Times. Given McChrystalâ€™s welcome emphasis on not killing civilians with air strikes, this is an interesting development. Could it be that weâ€™ll be seeing more drones fire their missiles into southern Afghanistan? Could it be related to the killings of the intelligence agents in Khost two weeks back, or to the impending arrival of the new waves of troops? Seven western troops were killed the yesterday, however, so the one sure thing we can say is that this foe has not been cowed by anything the US has done yet.
Gen. Shir Muhammad Zazai, the corps commander of the Afghan National Army in Kandahar, maintained that Taliban attacks had actually decreased against Afghan forces â€” though not against the Americans.
â€œThis year, winter is the safest time for us,â€ General Zazai said. â€œIt is calm. Incidents against Americans, though, are not calm. Against the Americans itâ€™s strange. It looks like the Taliban are staying to target the Americans and show that they are not weak and disappearing.â€
The spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense, Gen. Zahir Azimi, said it only seemed as if the Taliban were more active this winter because they were relying much more on improvised explosive devices, known as I.E.D.â€™s, and other tactics, rather than on carrying out offensives as they had in previous years.
â€œTwo years ago they changed their tactics; now theyâ€™re mostly resorting to roadside mines, I.E.D.â€™s, suicide attacks, guerrilla attacks like in Logar and the U.N. guesthouse,â€ General Azimi said.
note on source cited by NYT: “employees of the New York Times”
Reporting was contributed by Taimoor Shah from Kandahar, Afghanistan; Sangar Rahimi from Kabul; employees of The New York Times from Jalalabad and Helmand Province; and Nadim Audi from Paris.
2010-01-12 16:49:15 UTC