Waliur Rehman, deputy to Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud, said they wanted to assist their fellow fighters as they came under increased pressure. "Since Obama is also sending additional forces to Afghanistan, we sent thousands of our men there to fight Nato and American forces," he said. "The Afghan Taliban needed our help at this stage, and we are helping them." His comments from his base in South Waziristan were the first he has made since the Pakistani military launched the ground offensive on October. He said the Taliban remained committed to battling the army in the tribal region, but they were essentially waging a guerrilla war so could spare fighters to send to Afghanistan. Rehman, considered to be the strategic brains behind the Pakistani Taliban, said most of his fighters had reached Afghanistan and that he didn't need many insurgents to take on the military in South Waziristan. He said Hakimullah Mehsud, who took over the network in August after a missile strike killed former commander Baitullah Mehsud, was "not far away" and safe. The Pakistani army sent 30,000 troops to battle 10,000 militants in South Waziristan, including hundreds of Uzbek fighters. The military estimates it has killed around 600 Taliban fighters although Rehman claimed he had lost fewer than 20 fighters. The comments came as Britain lost four more soldiers in four days in Afghanistan bringing the death toll since the start of operations in 2001 to 243, including 106 this year. The 113,000 Nato and US troops in Afghanistan are due to be bolstered by almost 40,000 extra soldiers over the coming year. Col Wayne Shanks, a U.S. military spokesman in Afghanistan, called Rehman's comments "rhetoric" that were not to be believed. "We have not noticed any significant movement of insurgents in the border area," he said. Pakistani army spokesmen could not be reached for comment. Rehman also said his group would stop attacking Pakistani forces if the country severed its ties with the United States. "We would again become Pakistan's brother if Pakistan ends its support for America," he said. He claimed that the Taliban only attacked security forces and disavowed any strikes on civilian targets. Rehman urged President Barack Obama to focus on shoring up the beleaguered US economy. "He should know that Americans don't want war," Rehman said. "He should use this money for the welfare of his own people." He further claimed that Osama bin Laden was safe and alive, but that he had never met the al-Qaida chief in person. Pakistani officials have long cast doubt on suggestions that bin Laden is hiding in the tribal belt. "I know he is in touch with his people and he is communicating with them to convey his instructions," he said. (Telegraph)