Taliban commander vows to launch intense winter campaign
A top Taliban commander has pledged in a recorded interview to launch an intense winter campaign against NATO soldiers in Afghanistan.
The 15-minute interview with Mullah Mansour Dadullah, which was posted on several militant websites on Wednesday, was recorded by As-Sahab, an al-Qaeda production company. The interview appears to have been conducted in the fall, as its time stamp refers to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ended mid-October.
"We ask Allah that the war will continue in the winter with the same power as it is currently, and we will launch strong and large operations against the enemy in the winter," he said in Arabic and Pashto, according to a translation by Site Intelligence, a U.S. research group.
"We will eliminate them and conquer their bases, and kill their soldiers. This is my hope in Allah that these operations will continue with the same power in the winter season."
Military analyst Sunil Ramtold CBC Newsthe threat of a winter offensive must be taken seriously. Canada has more than 2,000 troops stationed in the country as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, a coalition of more than 30,000 soldiers from 37 countries.
"This is a significant strategic change, because traditionally in the Afghan theatre of war, the minute the fall ends and winter begins, most military activity dies down," said Ram, a former Canadian soldier who teaches at the American Military University in Charles Town, W.Va.
The CBC's Bill Gillespie said the Taliban usually pull back in winter because of the deep snow that blocks the passages through the mountains on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, where the Taliban have their bases.
"Normally there's a respite of about three or four months," Gillespie said. "But the message now is, 'You're in for a tough winter.'"
On the recording, the commander pleads for money for ammunition, explosives and cars, and talks about a close relationship with al-Qaeda, which has been sharing information about technologies. He denies the Talibanare funded by drug money.
The commander also asks that young, intelligent, educated men help out with the cause.
He took over as leader of the Taliban in the southern Helmand province in May, when his brother, Mullah Dadullah, was killed by NATO troops.
Seventy-one Canadian soldiers havedied in Afghanistan since the mission began in 2002. A diplomat has also been killed.