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Stressed mid-level Taliban reluctant to taking orders from Pak-based leaders


February 22, 2011 - Kandahar

Mid-level Taliban commanders have reportedly expressed a reluctance to return to the battle field, suggesting that there is a fissure developing in the insurgent outfit's rank and file.

After suffering defeats with the influx of thousands of new American troops in Kandahar and Helmand last year, many Taliban who had retreated to Pakistan, are now coming back to Afghanistan under pressure from their leaders.

"I have talked to some commanders, and they are reluctant to fight," one 45-year-old commander who has been with the Taliban since its founding in 1994 said in an interview in Kandahar.

According to The New York Times, the differences point not just to the increasing stresses on the battlefield for mid-level Taliban commanders like him, but also to the difficulty of ending the insurgency as long as the Taliban's top leadership has sanctuary in Pakistan.

The top Taliban leadership remains uncompromising. At the urging of their protectors in Pakistan, Taliban members say, they continue to push mid-level Taliban commanders back across the border to carry on the insurgency, which extends Pakistan's influence in southern Afghanistan.

In a meeting in Pakistan earlier this month, Taliban leaders ordered each commander to send four or five men back into their home areas to resume operations by planting bombs.

Some of the dissension in Taliban ranks stems from raids by American forces, which have been specifically aimed at eliminating Taliban field commanders.

The raids have taken a toll on the quality of the Taliban's fighting forces and exacerbated differences between the fighters on the ground and their leaders giving orders from their sanctuary in Pakistan.

In an assessment of the war written in January to his troops, the commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, Gen. David H. Petraeus, said that there were "numerous reports of unprecedented discord among the members of the Quetta Shura, the Taliban senior leadership body."

During the fighting in the fall, the Taliban commanders sometimes found their calls for help going unanswered, according to American military officials.

The raids have eroded Taliban morale, said Major Chris Cavin, chief of operations for the Second Brigade Combat Team from the 101st Airborne Division, fighting in Zhare.

ANI

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