NATO forces will fight through the bitter Afghan winter to step up the pressure on the Taliban, concentrating on their strongholds in the south and east, a spokesman for the alliance said Monday.
"We're making progress and now it is about holding on this progress," he said. "This progress is not irreversible yet."
NATO-led forces are battling Taliban militants in their strongholds in the southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand.
"We'll put the pressure everywhere, in Kandahar, in Helmand, in Region Combat East, everywhere," the German brigadier told AFP afterwards.
"We're hunting them down wherever we find them."
The Afghan winter usually marks a pause or at least decrease in fighting due to the frigid temperatures and heavy snowfall but also because militant fighters head to more temperate climes, notably in neighbouring Pakistan.
"We've got the resources right now in terms of force, not only to clear areas (in Kandahar and Helmand) but also to hold," said Blotz in response to a question about districts which have become unstable again after NATO had said they were secure.
The spokesman welcomed the increase in the Afghan police and army, which he said currently numbered 263,000 in total.
Afghan forces are due to assume responsibility for security from foreign troops forces by 2014 under an agreement between NATO, the United States and the Afghan government reached last month at a NATO summit in Lisbon.
Blotz admitted that the number of insurgent attacks was higher this year than in 2009, but said: "It is because they have been challenged in new areas. And the number of really effective attacks is going down these days.
"They haven't been challenged for years, so the number of confrontations and violences increase."
He insisted that night raids against suspected rebels were "still obviously necessary", despite their condemnation by the Afghan government, which says that the sometimes bloody operations feed popular anger against the authorities and their foreign allies.
"In 80 percent of them there's no shot fired," he said. "They are not only precise but also very effective in avoiding civilian casualties" as they target individuals rather than groups, he added.
Almost 140,000 US- and NATO-led troops are currently deployed in Afghanistan to support the Kabul government against the Taliban insurgency, which has gained ground in recent years despite regular Western reinforcements.
Source: AFP South Asian Edition