Taliban Having A ‘bad Year,’ Mullen Says

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KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, Aug. 1 (UPI) — Taliban fighters in Afghanistan are having “a bad year” as Afghan forces start to show gains in the country, a top U.S. military official said.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said he’d like his security forces to assume responsibility over operations in the country by 2014. His announcement was followed by pledges from members of the U.S.-led operation there that some troops committed as part of a so-called surge could start to head home at the end of the year.

U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a recent visit to Kandahar that there would still be around 68,000 U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan next year. In terms of the Taliban’s strength, Mullen said they were starting to lose the battle.

“The Taliban had a pretty bad year last year. They’re having a bad year this year and I think they’re going to have a bad year next year,” he was quoted by the Defense Department as saying. “So that’s three fighting seasons where the surge is really able to impact on them and make a difference and we’ll see where we go from there.”

Meanwhile, the U.N. Security Council through its al-Qaida sanctions committee added Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan to its sanctions list. The TTP played a role for a December 2009 attack on a CIA base in Afghanistan that left seven CIA officers dead.

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