LONDON, July 11 (UPI) -- The Taliban leadership in Afghanistan can't admit its own weaknesses for fear of undermining the morale of the mujahedin, a veteran commander said.
The Taliban in May announced the start of its spring offensive called al-Farooq, a title bestowed upon an adviser to the Islamic Prophet Mohammed and the name of an alleged al-Qaida training camp in Kandahar.
The Taliban, in a statement, said the primary target of the campaign would "be the foreign invaders."
U.S. and international forces in 2001 invaded Afghanistan in response to the al-Qaida attacks on the United States that year. Taliban forces at the time were hosting al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.
A veteran commander of the Taliban, speaking to British news magazine the New Statesman on condition of anonymity, said the conservative Islamic movement had fallen out of favor with al-Qaida. He said most of the Taliban in Afghanistan consider al-Qaida "to be a plague."
International forces are winding down their mission in Afghanistan as national forces take control over security operations. The commander said it was unlikely the Taliban would be able to win the campaign.
"Nevertheless, the leadership also knows that it cannot afford to acknowledge this weakness," he said. "To do so would undermine the morale of Taliban personnel."
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