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No sign of Taliban spring offensive: NATO

11 April, 2012

KABUL: Afghan insurgents have so far shown no sign of planning a repeat of last year's spring offensive against foreign and Afghan forces, preferring isolated attacks on small units and bases, a NATO spokesman said.

With the traditional summer fighting months only weeks away, German Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson said available intelligence did not point to a unified Taliban assault.

"No announcement has been made by the insurgency, but we are looking at what they are doing at the moment. We are looking at this year with very open eyes," Jacobson told Reuters in an interview.

"They are focusing on attacks on individual posts, on small groups, outposts of soldiers. We haven't seen any cohesive action," he said late on Monday.

The Taliban last year launched 'Operation Badr' vowing to target NATO military bases, convoys and Afghan government officials, as well as foreign companies.

They mounted high-profile suicide attacks on heavily guarded Afghan and foreign bases in the months after, culminating in a September attack on the US embassy compound in Kabul by terrorists who occupied a nearby building site.

Jacobson said the attacks of last year - which also included the assassination of the head of the Afghan government peace council in charge of reconciliation efforts - had failed to revitalise the insurgency.

But the Taliban may be emboldened with the planned post-summer withdrawal of 23,000 US soldiers, and with 2012 being the final year of NATO's surge in troop numbers ahead of the pullout of most combat troops by end-2014.

Western commanders have attributed smaller scale attacks to battlefield reverses for the insurgents, who they say now prefer to rely on surprise strikes and suicide attacks rather than confronting foreign troops directly.

In a step toward complete transition to Afghan forces, Afghanistan and the United States reached a deal on Sunday to curb night raids on Afghan homes, giving Kabul a veto over the operations despised by local people as a privacy intrusion.

Jacobson said Afghan special forces - though their numbers were still growing - were already capable of leading night raids while US troops would have a support and advisory role.

End.

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