Afghan Taliban reintegrating, U.S. says

Aug. 11, 2011 at 12:40 PM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- Taliban foot soldiers are slowly taking steps to reintegrate themselves into the society in Afghanistan, a top U.S. commander said.

The U.N. Security Council in June voted to split sanctions imposed on al-Qaida and Taliban members. The process is seen as part of an effort to clear moderate elements of the Taliban for reintegration into political life in Afghanistan.

U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, told reporters that he saw modest success with the reintegration program.

He said that through the reintegration program, more than 2,300 members of the Taliban have rejoined society and another 3,000 were "in the pipeline."

"It's a relatively new program and across Afghanistan we're beginning to see the Taliban foot soldiers ultimately come forward and seek to rejoin society and become a member of their villages," he said.

His comments followed an assault on Taliban members believed to have been responsible for the downing of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter last week. The Aug. 6 attack killed 30 members of the U.S. military.

Allen dismissed the Taliban attack on the helicopter as an act of desperation.

"(I)t's not uncommon in an insurgency, when insurgents are losing ground, to resort to spectacular attacks," he said.

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