KABUL (Reuters) An Afghan insurgent faction has voiced its backing for construction of a multi-billion dollar gas pipeline through Afghanistan and even pledged to provide security on a project stalled for over a decade by politics and violence. Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India this month signed a preliminary agreement to push ahead with the TAPI pipeline, which is supported by Washington and would transport Turkmen gas over Afghan soil to consumers in India and Pakistan. Hezb-i-Islami, an insurgent force separate from the Taliban and led by former prime minister Gulbaddin Hekmatyar, announced its full backing for the project and volunteered to help protect it, in a surprise statement emailed late on Saturday night. Hezb-i-Islami strongly supports this deal on the basis of which Turkmenistans gas will be exported through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India, the statement said. We are ready...to help with the work arrangement and enforcement of security of the pipeline in areas where Hezb-i-Islami has influence. The group does not control most of the proposed route, which runs through the Taliban heartland in southern Helmand and Kandahar provinces. The government says it would bury the pipeline up to two meters underground there to ensure security. But Hezb-i-Islami is active around western Herat, where the gas would begin its journey through Afghanistan and some former members have joined Taliban ranks in the south. Supporting the pipeline could be a tactical move for a group which has said it is open to the possibility of peace talks and may be aiming to position itself as a responsible player concerned about Afghanistans economic health. In March this year, Hekmatyars envoys held direct talks with President Hamid Karzai to discuss possible ways to end a war now dragging into its 10th year. The areas they are active include Logar province, south of Kabul, where a Chinese firm is opening up a huge copper mine. There have been no significant attacks reported on that project, although the government says good security is the result of a special protection force it has established for the mine.attacks reported on that project, although the government says good security is the result of a special protection force it has established for the mine. Hezb-i-Islami also has limited financial resources, so could be eyeing the pipeline as a potential source of funding should it come to power, or earnings if it does not lay down arms. The Taliban in the past have conducted attacks against aid workers and some construction projects. They had no immediate comment on the planned pipeline. However, Hezb-i-Islami added in its statement that its campaign against the foreign forces stationed in Afghanistan since the ouster of the Taliban government in 2001 will continue.