Striking improvements in guerrilla strategy have resulted in severe punishment for Soviet occupation forces and government troops in Afghanistan. This has occurred despite a continued lack of agreement among the country's patchwork of popularly supported insurgent groups, sources recently returned from Afghanistan report.
The effectiveness of the mujahideen fighters varies widely from region to region. But a composite picture of the situation reveals a rising degree of confidence and combat sophistication among many of the guerrilla groups.
Conversely, both diplomatic and independent foreign observers have reported mounting casualties and a loss of morale among both Soviet and Afghan government troops.
In many parts of Afghanistan, the sources maintain, the Soviets appear to be reacting to guerrilla harassment, attacks, and assassinations with an increasingly defensive siege mentality. Soviet bases are being constantly reinforced with concrete walls, barbed wire, and mine fields.
One Western observer recently returned from northern Afghanistan reported that Soviet forces in Badakshan Province are forced to supply all their strongholds by air. Furthermore, awareness among the occupation troops that the mujahideen take few, if any, prisoners is apparently causing considerable anxiety and nervousness.
Two French doctors from the Paris-based Aide Medicale Internationale (AMI), who have just spent nearly three months providing health care inside Afghanistan , have provided details of the fighting.
Small, but well-organized, groups of mujahideen have been operating in a highly destructive manner against communist forces from their retreats in the resistance- controlled Panjshir Valley 40 miles north of Kabul. The doctors said the guerrillas have been launching almost daily assaults against the Soviets in and around the towns of Gulbahar, Salang, and Bagram.