British forces in Afghanistan are trying out a new strategy – operating deep into areas thought to be under the group’s control. The reconnaissance missions are in the southern province of Helmand where hundreds of Taliban fighters are believed to be on the ground.
Afghanistan’s booming drugs trade stands accused of fuelling the group’s armed campaign. In the province around the eastern city of Jalalabad, work is underway to stamp out the production of opium. But local discontent can be triggered by the authorities’ efforts, with poor farmers wondering how they can earn a living.
“If we don’t grow poppies, what else can we do?” one farmer asked.
“We don’t have any other jobs. This is the only source of income with which we can feed our families.”
Afghanistan supplies over 90 percent of world opium, with cultivation on the rise.
Efforts to curb production come as military leaders brace themselves, with warnings the Taliban is gearing up for a major spring offensive.