Winter fighting took heavy toll on Afghan forces

May 04, 2017, 22:50
Winter fighting took heavy toll on Afghan forces

In the first 6 weeks of this year, 807 Afghan soldiers were killed, John Sopko, the US special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, said in a quarterly report to Congress issued late Sunday.

- An Afghan official said that at least three people, including a small child, were killed when Islamic State group militants attacked Taliban insurgents in eastern Nangarhar province.

Stoltenberg told the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag in an interview published on April 30 that in view of the "challenging" security situation, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation could increase the number of personnel in Afghanistan from the current 13,000, although he did not give a specific figure. The U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is to support the Afghan national security forces in the fight against the Taliban.

Levels of violence have traditionally dipped over Afghanistan's cold winter months, but this year the Taliban continued to battle government forces, most successfully in a horrific April 19 attack on a military base outside the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif. Casualties suffered by the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) in the fight against the Taliban and other insurgents continue to be shockingly high: "807 were killed in the first six weeks of this year", the USA agency noted.

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There has been little let-up in violence targeting Afghan forces since the period covered in the report.

"Despite a USA investment of $8.5 billion to counter Afghanistan's illicit narcotics economy, the country remains the world's largest opium producer and exporter-producing an estimated 80% of the world's heroin", notes John Sopko, the chief of SIGAR.

The "shockingly high" death rate among security forces comes amid reports of a possible increase in troops by the U.S and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to the country.

After more than 2 generations of conflict in the country, more than 660,000 people in Afghanistan fled their homes in 2016, the highest number of displacements on record and a 40 percent increase over the previous year, according to the USA report.

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Ongoing and increasing investigations into U.S. contractors and military officials have seen three criminal charges, two convictions, one sentencing, and a civil settlement of $40 million in just the past three months, according to the Free Beacon.

The SIGAR report also found that both Afghan government and insurgent groups slightly increased the amount of territory they held, as the number of areas previously considered "contested" dropped.

United States forces in Afghanistan on April 13 struck an IS cave complex in Achin district using the largest non-nuclear bomb, killing almost 100 IS fighters and destroying a militant hideout. "Opium production stands near record levels", the SIGAR report added.

Narcotics traffickers are giving terrorists weapons, money, and support to continue their insurgency.

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