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Swedes expect escalating violence in Afghanistan

Publicerat torsdag 5 maj 2011 kl 15.08
"I can't give you a straight answer"
(6:04 min)
The Swedish Armed Forces talked about the current status of their missions in Afghanistan and Libya during a press conference on Thursday. Major General Anders Silver (l), Colonel Fredrik Ståhlberg (m), General Anders Lindström (r). Photo: ANDERS WIKLUND / SCANPIX

Sweden's troops in Afghanistan are preparing to meet what the Taliban has announced as their spring offensive, but so far, the military has not noticed a particular increase in violence.

"We haven't seen any sort of big spring offensive for now, but of course it can happen and it's closely monitored," Colonel Fredrik Ståhlberg, chief of staff of the Swedish land component command, tells Radio Sweden at the Armed Forces press conference in Stockholm on Thursday.

"We believe that the very successful operation of the first brigade of the ANSF together with the Swedish Finnish POT . . . could have hampered the insurgents' work in that area," says Ståhlberg.

The Taliban often waits out the harsh winter, which makes it difficult to move along the terrain, and launches more attacks during the spring.

Ståhlberg is confident that if and when the Taliban's spring offensive becomes noticeable, Swedish troops have the training to cope with it.

He also says that it is difficult to say whether the death of Osama bin Laden will affect the Swedish military presence in Afghanistan.

"All things happen in Afghanistan, or around Afghanistan, or in the world for that matter, of course, have an indirect or a direct influence on our troops in Afghanistan, but we're always looking really closely into the different aspects of what are troops are doing there," he says.

Sweden is not part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), but sometimes goes along with NATO operations if they have a United Nations mandate. This means that Sweden's military is involved in both Afghanistan and Libya.

Sweden has eight Gripen fighter planes helping to enforce the no-fly zone over Libya.

Anders Silver, Major General in the Swedish Armed Forces and in charge of air operations both here and abroad, says that the reconnaissance results in Libya have been good so far, but that sandstorms have damaged the windscreens of a couple of the planes.

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