Alonso pledges more troops for Afghanistan

25th April 2006, Comments 0 comments

25 April 2006, MADRID – The new defence minister on Tuesday announced he would ask Congress to agree to send more Spanish troops to Afghanistan.

25 April 2006

MADRID – The new defence minister on Tuesday announced he would ask Congress to agree to send more Spanish troops to Afghanistan.

José Antonio Alonso, who took over from José Bono who resigned earlier this month, made the announcement on a visit to the country where Spain already has 540 soldiers serving in the UN-backed International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Alonso said the extra troops would "continue guaranteeing" the safety of the Spanish soldiers in Afghanistan which are based in Heart, Qala i Naw and Kabul and are headed by NATO.

Last week, the defence department confirmed a group of 32 Spanish soldiers had been attacked while patrolling the area near Herat.

Alonso said he would ask congress on 9 May to approve his plans to send more troops. However, he refused to say exactly how many soldiers he would allocate. The Spanish media cited military sources as saying the increase will amount to 150 soldiers and a C295 transporter plane.

Alonso said he had spoken to his counterparts in the other political parties and had obtained the backing of all parties except the minority IU group, the United Left.

Alonso's visit to Afghanistan was kept secret until late Monday evening for security reasons. He arrived at 8am local time on Tuesday (5.30 Spanish time) and inspected Spanish troops.

Later in the day, he was due to fly by helicopter to Kasma Khani to pay tribute to the 17 Spanish soldiers who died there on 15 August.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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