Hoon claims Taliban soldiers are defecting

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Indy Politics

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon has claimed that followers of the Taliban regime have been defecting since America and Britain began their bombing raids on Afghanistan.

He said: "It's more difficult to assess the effect on the morale of the terrorists and Taliban soldiers.

"It is clear that the coalition effort is already having an impact on Taliban cohesion."Reports suggest that some of Mullah Omar's followers are starting to have second thoughts. Some are clearly defecting."

"We have been supported by the revulsion expressed by Islamic countries for the dreadful crimes that precipitated this action.

"Yesterday's statement by the Organisation of Islam Conference in Qatar expressed this revulsion very clearly. This demonstrates the key point - that this is not a battle between the West and Islam, but one between terror and justice."

Sir Michael Boyce, chief of the defence staff, said that 40 targets have been hit so far.

He said: "We are very much still at the beginning, the completion of the objectives to counteract terrorism are not yet in sight."

He added that British forces were still helping America in the attacks, with the RAF flying about 20 operational sorties over the last 2 nights.