US commander: Taliban offensive in eastern Afghanistan appears unlikely

The Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan is unlikely to stage a spring offensive in the volatile eastern region bordering Pakistan, the commander of US forces in that area said Wednesday. Army Maj. Gen. David Rodriguez told a Pentagon news conference that Taliban and al-Qaida fighters operating from havens in the largely ungoverned tribal areas of western Pakistan appear to have shifted their focus toward targets inside Pakistan rather than across the border in Afghanistan. "I don't think there'll be a big spring offensive this year," Rodriguez said. That is partly due to disillusionment with the Taliban movement among ordinary Afghans, he said, and partly because the Taliban and al-Qaida fighters see new opportunities to accelerate instability inside Pakistan. He also said Afghan security forces are becoming more effective partners with US forces.