Officer sees momentum shift in Afghanistan

Feb. 14, 2011 at 8:37 AM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- A British commander expressed cautious optimism that momentum in the fight against Afghan insurgents in a volatile province has shifted toward the military.

Brig. James Chiswell, commander of British forces in Helmand province, said insurgents were feeling more pressure and optimism was running higher among his troops and civilians, the BBC reported Monday.

"There's certainly a sense over this winter period that the insurgency is under a lot of pressure," Chiswell said, "but perhaps more importantly there's certainly a sense of growing local confidence to shake off the insurgency, and indeed to put their trust in the state."

British forces have been in Helmand province since December -- their second stint in the area -- helping to provide security on a main highway and pivotal trade route.

When they first arrived in December, British troops were attacked frequently by insurgents, Chiswell said. But soldiers providing security for the highway said there had been no attacks during the past month, the BBC said.

British forces are also working in neighboring Kandahar province.

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