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Wednesday, 8 May, 2002, 19:28 GMT 20:28 UK
War in Afghanistan 'almost over'
Troops in Afghanistan
British troops have been combing remote mountains
The commander of British forces in Afghanistan says the war there against al-Qaeda and the Taleban is "all but won".

Brigadier Roger Lane said he expected operations, including the British-led Snipe mission, would end in a matter of weeks rather than months.

British marines have been on operations in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan for 10 days to hunt out remnants of the Osama bin Laden's terrorist network and destroy its network of caves.

'Little opposition'

The British contingent has not come across much resistance and there has been little seen of the opposition since March when US and Afghanistan government forces took on several hundred fighters.

"We believe we're on the right way, that the fight against AQT (al-Qaeda and Taleban) in Afghanistan is all but won, that they're not showing a predisposition to reorganise and regroup to mount offensive operations against us," the brigadier said.

"I don't say it's over now, but I think it will be in the weeks to come rather than the months to come."

British troops in Afghanistan
British troops have met with little resistance

He stressed, however, that coalition forces would need to stay in the war-torn country for some time to help the transition to democracy.

Special operation forces would also remain in case al-Qaeda tried to regroup.

At the moment, though, that does not appear to be the case.

The allied forces appear to be working on the assumption that many of the al-Qaeda fighters are operating in neighbouring Pakistan.

Brigadier Lane ruled out British troops under his command crossing the border into Pakistan, but said there would have to be close cooperation with the government to ensure there are no safe havens, particularly in the north-west of the country.

See also:

08 May 02 | South Asia
Musharraf condemns Karachi blast
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