KANDAHAR MILITARY BASE, Afghanistan (AFP) – Extra troops called for by the head of foreign forces in Afghanistan would be sent mainly to the north and west of the country, the US military said on Saturday.
“It is where we have the fewest troops,” a US official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
US General Stanley McChrystal, who commands 100,000 US and NATO troops in Afghanistan, has reportedly asked for up to 40,000 extra troops and warned that without reinforcements in the next 12 months, the mission could end in failure.
North and west Afghanistan were calm until the start of this year, but have seen a sharp deterioration in security in recent months, as Taliban insurgents intensified attacks before the August 20 presidential election.
Like in the south and the east, fighting between militants and international forces has now become a daily occurrence.
McChrystal has called the situation “serious” but is still not certain of getting reinforcements, with the issue politically explosive in the United States and as public opinion turns against the Afghan mission.
Security in Afghanistan has worsened in the last two years, with US and coalition casualties reaching record numbers in recent months.
A total of 384 foreign troops have died so far in 2009, 226 of them American, the most since the ouster of Afghanistan’s former hardline leaders the Taliban eight years ago, according to the independent icasualties.org website.