365 Taliban leaders killed - report

2010-08-26 21:46

Berlin - Special forces of the Nato-led military coalition in Afghanistan have killed 365 Taliban leaders over the past three months, German news magazine Der Spiegel said in its online edition on Thursday.

The elite troops, mainly from the US, killed the insurgents in commando operations between May 8 and August 8, said the magazine quoting a confidential International Security Assistance Force briefing.

During the same period 1 395 suspects were arrested, according to the briefing to diplomats and military leaders.

In June the former US commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, told the media that US special forces, whose number have almost tripled in a year, killed or captured 121 leading Taliban over the three previous months.

McChrystal was forced to retire after making scathing comments to a magazine about the Barack Obama administration.

The special forces are equipped with helicopters, planes and drones, and mostly act at night to deprive the Taliban of their leadership, according to press reports.

McChrystal's successor, US General David Petraeus, said on Monday that the international troops he commands in Afghanistan had turned the tide on the Taliban's "momentum" there, although he warned tough battles still lay ahead.

In an interview with the BBC, he also played down the prospect of a rapid withdrawal of US troops next year, repeating his insistence that Obama's target of July 2011 was only a "date when a process begins".