WASHINGTON - Local Afghans are increasingly turning against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, a top International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) official has said.
It was reflected in information being given by Afghans against the extremist groups, ISAF Joint Command Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Michael Krause said on Wednesday.
There had lately been a significant increase in the number of foreign fighters sneaking into Afghanistan, the Australian general told Pentagon reporters through a teleconference from Kabul.
"We are seeing a high proportion of foreign fighters, which we interpret as meaning the locals just aren't as interested as perhaps they were previously," he said.
"And we are seeing quite extreme, desperate and, indeed, sickening tactics on behalf of the insurgents, such as using 12-year-old children as suicide bombers. We saw the other day the rigging of an ambulance as a vehicle-borne IED."
During the winter, he claimed, ISAF had made significant gains at a time when senior Taliban leaders traditionally abandoned their soldiers and went back across the border. "We cleared established staging areas and cache sites. Indeed, we increased our cache finds by 300 percent, compared to the previous winter."
Krause saw prospects for the transition of first provinces and district centres as pretty good, saying they were on track for the security handover, starting by the end of July.
One of the areas that will transition is Lashkargah, the capital of Helmand, during the first tranche which would put about 22 percent of the population, including Kabul, under Afghan control, he said. (Pajhwok)