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U.S., Afghans to train local militias

KABUL, Afghanistan, Dec. 24 (UPI) -- U.S. military officials say they hope plans to arm local Afghan militias to help fight the Taliban yield results similar to the success seen in Iraq.

If the first militia arrangement proves successful, the local fighters eventually will be deployed to help U.S. and Afghan security forces across the mountainous country, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

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The first of the local militias is scheduled to begin operating early next year in Wardak province, an area where the Taliban have overrun most government authority, U.S. and Afghan official said.

The formation of Afghan militias is modeled after a plan in Iraq where 100,000 Sunnis supplement U.S. and Iraqi troops and are paid by the government for their efforts. The Awakening Councils, as the militias are known, have been credited by U.S. officials as a key reasons for the drop in violence in Iraq.

The plan was approved earlier in December by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, despite concerns expressed by some that Pashtun-dominated militias could go out of control, terrorize communities and turn against the government, the Times said.

"There will be fighting between Pashtuns and non-Pashtuns," said Salih Mohammad Registani, an Afghan Parliament member and ethnic Tajik. "A civil war will start very soon."

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