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Al-Qaeda Said To Boost Taliban Fight Against Afghan Government

The aftermath of a Taliban attack in Afghanistan (file photo).
The aftermath of a Taliban attack in Afghanistan (file photo).

Al-Qaeda is working more closely with the Taliban in Afghanistan and could bolster the militant group's fight against government forces, a NATO spokesman says.

"By themselves, we don't think that they pose...a real significant threat, to the government of Afghanistan," spokesman Brigadier General Charles Cleveland said on May 5.

"But because we think that Al-Qaeda is...beginning to work more with Taliban, they can present a bit of an accelerant for the Taliban. They can provide capabilities and skills and those types of things."

Last fall, the head of Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahri, announced his backing for the new Taliban leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansur.

"Since that time, we have seen more interaction" between the two groups, Cleveland said.

He estimated that there are 100 to 300 Al-Qaeda members in Afghanistan.

"Although they have been significantly diminished, they do have the ability to regenerate very quickly, and they still do have the ability to pose a threat," he said.

Cleveland said the Taliban will also get a boost this year from a bumper crop for poppies, its main source of funding.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP