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Top US general in Afghanistan says Taliban fight has 'turned the corner'

Top US general in Afghanistan says Taliban fight has 'turned the corner'

Otherwise, he said, they can "face irrelevance or die".

The U.S. general also maintained that the Afghan government forces went on the offensive this year and have become "more capable" after several changes, including new leadership.

Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., who commands USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces in Afghanistan, told reporters at the Pentagon that President Trump's new plan for Afghanistan would substantially expand how American advisers provide hands-on assistance to Afghan soldiers. "The goal of our strategy is reconciliation - a negotiated settlement which lowers the level of violence", Nicholson said. USA forces have sought to stem the flow of drugs from Afghanistan in the past, but have failed.

The move comes as part of President Donald Trump's strategy for Afghanistan and broader region, which he announced in August and that has already seen a sharp uptick in air strikes and an additional 3,000 or so troops flow in. USA operations against these opium factories are meant to cut off funding streams to the militant group which has proven resilient on the battlefield.

USA officials have made similar statements in the past.

In 2011, President Barack Obama boasted that the United States had "turned a corner" in the fight after his 33,000 troop surge in 2010.

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Nicholson said just last week that the fight was "still in a stalemate". He said with the changes and global support the "momentum has shifted in their favor". The government only controls about 56 percent of the country, a six-point decline from 2016.

But the Afghan forces haven't been able to hold those gains, and the Taliban has regained control over huge chunks of territory.

Since the end of "combat operations" for USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces in January 2015, Afghan forces have taken staggering losses as the Taliban has regrouped and retaken territory that American forces had secured through fierce fighting during the Obama surge.

The United States will send more troops onto the battlefield alongside Afghan forces next year as part of a revamped strategy created to "turn the corner" on the 16-year war against the Taliban, the top American commander in Afghanistan said Tuesday.

The government in Kabul has since asked the Pentagon to classify casualty figures, obscuring a key metric about the effectiveness of a force American taxpayers have spent over $60 billion to train and equip. "That's why I express confidence that we are on our way to a win", Nicholson said.

Still, he said the USA military effort is necessary but by itself not sufficient for success in the long run.


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