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Brown: Talk to the Taliban

GORDON Brown has backed talks aimed at getting Taliban supporters to switch sides in a huge gamble to shorten the war in Afghanistan.
And it is believed an SAS hit squad will be deployed to hunt down and assassinate top-level enemy commanders.
The News of the World can also reveal extra troops will be sent to help search for and destroy the Taliban’s lethal roadside bombs and speed up the creation of the Afghan army.
As the PM made a flying visit there yesterday, it emerged the Government will support a diplomatic offensive to persuade local warlords and tribal leaders to change their allegiance.
A Foreign Office source said: “The priority is to target loose supporters who have backed the Taliban in their area because it is in their best interests.
“That means that the foreign Taliban fighting in Afghanistan will become more isolated from the general population, which makes them easier to hunt down and destroy.”
And a diplomatic source in Helmand commented: “Many locals who have been aligned to the Taliban are ready to talk to the Afghan government.
“Once we can isolate them, the military effort can concentrate on the hard-liners. It is time to start that dialogue.”
It is thought a major Special Forces operation spearheaded by 22 SAS is now set to be launched against the hard-line commanders.
Meanwhile, at least 200 specialist soldiers will be sent out to double the number clearing the Taliban’s roadside bombs and booby traps, which have killed 35 British troops in the past two months.
A Royal Marine died yesterday after being caught in the latest blast while on foot patrol near Gereshk in Helmand.
He becomes the 208th British soldier to die in the conflict since 2001.
In addition to the bomb disposal experts, hundreds more troops are expected to follow to train the Afghan army, taking our total force level to 10,000. The PM hopes the surge will see the Afghans take over and British troops start to come home within two years.
Mr Brown yesterday met troops, military commanders and political leaders at the British Military HQ in Lashkar Gah and Camp Bastion base.
He said: “I think we can get another 50,000 Afghan army personnel trained in a year. That will mean you will see, over the next year, the Afghan government taking more responsibility for their own affairs.”



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