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منگل، 26 اکتوبر، 2010

Foreign troops death toll in Afghanistan hits 600

The number of foreign troops occpying Afghanistan to die this year reached 600, by far the highest annual toll in nine years of imperialist war.

The milestone was reached after a NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) announcement that a soldier had been killed in a Taliban attack in the east on Sunday, AFP reported.

Another NATO soldier was killed in a bomb blast in the Taliban heartland of southern Afghanistan on the same day.

The toll of 600, according to an AFP tally based on a count kept by the website, compares to 521 killed in all of 2009 in what was previously the deadliest year on record for the forces in Afghanistan.

On average, two soldiers die each day. A total of 2,170 foreign soldiers have been killed since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan which overthrew the Taliban regime and occupied the country.

Western public opinion is growing increasingly tired of this unwinnable war.

Dutch troops ended their futile mission in Afghanistan on August 1. Italy plans to hand over control of large parts of western Afghanistan by the end of 2011.

Canada, which is the sixth-largest contributor of occupation troops, intends to pull its estimated 2,830 troops out of the south in 2011. U.S. President Barack Obama has said he wants American troops to start withdrawing from July 2011.

A Taliban-led insurgency has since strengthened each year, but it is most intense in the southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand.

At least 1,348 American troops are among the dead, and the U.S. military provides two-thirds of the 150,000-strong international force in Afghanistan.

Foreign and Afghan forces are currently engaged in a major offensive around Kandahar city -- the largest city in the south -- aimed at pushing the insurgents out of the area to bring an end to the war.

The surge in military deaths has followed the deployment of about 40,000 extra U.S. and NATO troops under a White House strategy designed to clear major towns and cities of the Taliban and restore confidence in the government.

The U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan said an increasing number of Taliban leaders are showing interest in talks with the U.S.-backed government in Kabul as pressure mounts from the intensifying NATO military campaign.

“What we've got here is an increasing number of Taliban at high levels saying, 'Hey, we want to talk,'“ Richard Holbrooke told CNN in an interview.

“We think this is a result in large part of the growing pressure they're under from General (David) Petraeus and the ISAF command.”

But he cautioned that the feelers so far add up to “contacts and discussions” rather than peace negotiations to end the war.
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