By ITV News Senior Foreign Editor John Angier
The Afghan government and its Western allies have what sounds like a simple strategy for dealing with the Taliban.
First, relentlessly grind them down on the battlefield until they realise they cannot win. Then negotiate a peaceful settlement with them.
Simple in theory, but not in practice. The Taliban are hardened fighters who have known nothing but war for more than a decade.
They are religious zealots with, paradoxically, a thumb in the plum pie of Helmand’s lucrative opium trade. And above all, they still believe they can win.
ITV News sent a cameraman to interview a group of Taliban not far outside Helmand’s provincial capital, Lashkar Gah. They defiantly showed off their weapons, and their replies to our questions give little cause for optimism.
They taunted the West about the soldiers who died.