KABUL, Afghanistan — The leaders of the largest tribe in a Taliban stronghold in southern Helmand province have pledged to stop insurgent attacks and expel foreign fighters from one of the most violent spots in the country, the senior U.S. Marine general in Afghanistan said Monday
Marine Maj. Gen. Richard Mills, who commands coalition forces in the southwest, said the deal was struck between local elders in the Sangin district and Helmand Gov. Gulabuddin Mangal with the consultation of coalition forces.
However, it is unlikely that the violence will cease immediately in Sangin as the die-hard Taliban leadership under the command of Mullah Mohammad Omar, which is based in the Pakistani city of Quetta, will keep fighting.
But the cooperation of the tribal leaders to rid the area of insurgents could help shorten the war in one of the most violent places in Afghanistan.
In the past four years, more than 100 British troops died in Sangin and more than a dozen Marines have lost their lives since their deployment in mid-October. Getting local tribal elders to renounce the Taliban and join the political process has been a key part of the U.S. counterinsurgency plan in Afghanistan.
Mills said “there was also a pledge from the elders that fighting would cease by insurgents against coalition forces and foreign fighters would be expelled from the area.”
He added “we are cautiously optimistic of this agreement and will monitor whether it leads to reduced insurgent influence and a rejection of illicit activity.”