China has been secretly backing a brutal Taliban insurgency across Afghanistan in exchange for help in oppressing Uyghur insurgents, The Mirror can reveal.
In exchange for money to buy arms and supplies western sources believe the Taliban have shunned neighbouring Uyghur groups which it once supported with weapons.
Along with backing from Russia, Pakistan and other neighbouring countries the China support has given the Taliban a huge boost in its bid to wrestle control of Afghanistan.
China also hopes to cash in on a wealth of mineral resources and trade routes via Afghanistan, hedging its bets on the Taliban retaining a huge foothold in the region.
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Chinese President Xi Jinping is overseeing the oppression of Uyghur Muslims, western sources believe ( Getty Images)
And it is also hoping the current brutal Taliban uprising will hugely discredit any achievements made by NATO forces since the post 9-11 US -led invasion.
One western intelligence source told the Daily Mirror: “China has given its support to the Taliban in the hope of future deals with the insurgency.
“It has a huge interest in the Taliban helping crack down on ethnic Uyghurs in the region who have been brutally oppressed in China.
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“Whereas the Taliban in the 1990s did many arms deals with Uyghur Islamic jihadists groups, it is believed they have undertaken not to do so in exchange for financial backing.
“China’s interest in Afghanistan is many-fold but primarily it is protecting its own security by getting organisations such as the Taliban to outlaw Uyghurs.
“As fellow Sunnis this has not been easy but the Taliban are practical and China has huge trade interests in future deals in Afghanistan, even hoping to cash in on reconstruction and natural resource extraction.
“And it will also have an interest in backing any insurgency that discredits the west’s achievements there, such as they are.”
There are around 3,500 Uyghurs in Afghanistan and tens of thousands more in surrounding countries, although more than ten million are being oppressed in China.
Brutal fighting between government troops in Helmand’s capital Lashkar Gah has left streets littered with bodies and tens of thousands of civilians trapped between the two.
The UN has declared it is ‘deeply concerned’ about the safety and protection of tens of thousands of people in Afghanistan’s Lashkar Gah, once patrolled by UK forces.
The Taliban has stepped up its campaign to defeat the U.S.-backed government since April as foreign forces such as the UK and US complete their withdrawal after 20 years of war.
Fighting has been particularly heavy around the city of Herat, near the western border with Iran, and Lashkar Gah and Kandahar in the south.
The UN said: “We’re deeply concerned about the safety and protection of people in Lashkar Gah, in the south, where tens of thousands of people could be trapped by the fighting.”