Afghanistan violence will get worse, says UK commander

British troops in Afghanistan
Image caption Lt Gen Parker said the mission was "progressing in the right way" for British troop withdrawal

Violence in Afghanistan will get worse before it gets better, the UK's most senior military commander in the country has told the BBC.

Lt Gen Sir Nick Parker said progress was being made against the Taliban but it was "hard, slow and variable".

"We are going up the hill into the enemy at the moment," Gen Parker said.

But there was "persistent security" in previously insurgent-dominated areas, the deputy head of Nato's International Security Assistance Force added.

Gen Parker told BBC Radio 4: "This is a complex counter-insurgency. There are a large number of different actors and it is a resilient enemy.

"Over the course of this summer, the momentum of the campaign has continued much as we predicted it would earlier in the year. We are seeing progress but it is hard, it is slow and it is variable."

But Gen Parker added that "the bell curve of violence" would increase before it decreased.

"I am convinced we are showing persistent security in areas where the insurgency has dominated in the past and the people who live in those areas are beginning to realise not only that we are serious, but also - importantly - that the Afghan government is beginning to bring more governance and development to those areas," he said.

'Turning the corner'

Gen Parker also said the mission was "progressing in the right way" for Prime Minister David Cameron's five-year timescale for the withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan to be met.

Earlier this week, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg insisted the military campaign in Afghanistan was "turning the corner", during a surprise visit to the country.

But he said he "had no idea exactly how and when we will succeed".

Mr Clegg repeated the promise made by the government that UK combat troops would leave Afghanistan by 2015.

A total of 87 British troops have been killed in Afghanistan so far this year, bringing the total to 332 since the start of operations in 2001.

There are currently about 9,500 UK troops in Afghanistan, with the majority based in the south of the country.

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