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Taliban seeking to test NATO: White House

india Updated: Jun 19, 2006 15:18 IST
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Taliban forces are seeking to "test" NATO troops in areas of Afghanistan where they are taking over from the US military but have "overwhelmingly been losing," White House spokesman Tony Snow said on Monday.

The White House press secretary, in an interview on CNN's "Late Edition," said the increased military activity by members of the former ruling Islamic militia was "predictable."

"I think what the Taliban is doing - and it's predictable - is they are trying to test in the south, where the US forces are handing over to NATO," Snow said. "There's been a test."

"But A, it's predictable, and B, in the encounters, as you know, the Taliban fighters have overwhelmingly been losing," he said.

"It is predictable that the Taliban tries to assert itself in Afghanistan, and furthermore, as the government begins to expand beyond the boundaries of Kabul ... You can expect there to be pushback by the Taliban," he said.

Snow confirmed reports that the United States has increased its use of air power in Afghanistan.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that US airstrikes in Afghanistan have surged in the past three months, with the number of strikes double those in Iraq.

Citing the US military headquarters for the Middle East, the newspaper said Washington carried out 340 airstrikes in Afghanistan in that time frame, "more than twice the 160 carried out in the much higher-profile war in Iraq.

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