The French troops will be taking over from the American soldiers in the Kapisa province, and will have to get used to the difficult terrain - something our reporters who were there before the deployment can testify to. Situated to the north of Kabul, this province is a strategic point for the coalition. An entryway to the Afghan capital, it is a hostile zone where the Taliban are particularly active.
Although caught in a stranglehold by the fighting, people still try to lead normal lives. “It is very dangerous. But if we have faith, we’re not afraid. And then, there is fighting and these air raids day and night. So now we’ve become used to it”, says Mohammad Aqa Kakal, head of rural development for the Tag Ab district in the Kapisa province.
The Americans have tried hard to gain the support of the inhabitants notwithstanding the lack of communication, caused by fear of suicide attacks and security measures. The mission is delicate because the Taliban have local influence here and are often respected.
The doctor Afizullah, an emergency room doctor at the Khor Gal clinic in the Tag Ab district, is not convinced by the Americans, “who don’t do much. Sometimes they come and distribute medicines but that doesn’t really help. One time, they came to give out toothpaste and some gloves”.
It is a race against time. Gaining the support of the local population will be an uphill battle for the French soldiers in Kapisa. The Taliban already have much local support in this hostile environment, making it a war the French battalion cannot hope to win with weapons alone.