1. ITV Report

Taliban ready to fight to the death in Helmand province

  • 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.

Credit: ITV News

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.

Taliban commander Mullah Zahid said Helmand would not be conquered by the West Credit: ITV News

It is a clear fact that the foreign forces that have come to Helmand have suffered a terrible and shameful defeat, and Helmand has turned into a graveyard for them.

Helmand is a province where they tried all they could but haven’t and didn’t achieve their objectives, nor will they from this point onward, Allah willing.

– Mullah Zahid, Taliban commander

Our message to the slaves of Americans, British, Jews and others is that no matter how many soldiers, forces, planes and tanks, Allah willing, Allah is with us and if Allah willing we will fight them to the end, to the last drop of blood in our bodies, if all well.

– Mullah Mansoor, Taliban fighter
Credit: ITV News