Wire: New Obama Afghanistan Strategy Makes July Deadliest Month of War
Off the Wire:
WASHINGTON, July 15, 2009 -- Newswire services today reported that July is shaping up as the deadliest month of the Afghan war for U.S.-led international forces, with the number killed already matching the highest full-month toll of the nearly eight-year conflict, according to figures compiled by the Associated Press.
As of Wednesday, at least 46 international troops, including 24 Americans, had been killed in Afghanistan this month, according to statements by the U.S. military and the NATO command. That matches the tolls for the two previous deadliest months -- June and August of 2008.
The rate of deaths in July -- about three a day -- is approaching some of the highest levels of the Iraq war, AP said.
The latest reported deaths occurred Tuesday. They include an American soldier who was killed by a roadside bomb in eastern Afghanistan and two Turks, including a colonel, who died in a traffic accident in the north of the country.
AP noted that U.S. commanders have been expecting higher casualties since President Barack Obama ordered 21,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan this year to curb a resurgent Taliban that threatens not only the U.S.-backed Kabul government but also Afghanistan's nuclear-armed neighbor, Pakistan.
Obama's decision has effectively shifted the focus on the global war against Islamic extremism from Iraq, where the United States still maintains about 130,000 troops. Only two U.S. service members have died in Iraq this month -- both from non-hostile causes -- according to the Pentagon, AP reported.
The U.S. is sending thousands more soldiers to train Afghanistan's police and army.
During last year's election campaign, Obama accused President George W. Bush of diverting U.S. resources from the war in Afghanistan, where al-Qaida's leadership planned the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington, to what he termed an unnecessary war to oust Saddam Hussein in Iraq, AP noted.
(Report from newswire sources.)
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