June deadliest month for foreign troops in Afghan war

24th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

The deaths of another four NATO troops in an accident in Afghanistan made June the deadliest single month for US-led foreign forces in nearly nine years of conflict, according to an AFP tally Thursday.

The grim landmark followed the sacking of NATO's commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, which was greeted with dismay in Kabul where Afghan officials and foreign diplomats praised his efforts to reshape the war.

A total of 79 foreign troops have died so far this month as a result of the conflict in Afghanistan, according to an AFP tally based on statistics on the independent icasualties.org website.

The record eclipsed the previous bloodiest month for NATO troops last August, when 77 soldiers were killed. Since the US-led invasion in late 2001, around 1,870 foreign troops have been killed.

The latest dead were four British troops who were killed in a vehicle crash in the southern province of Helmand, the Ministry of Defence said, bringing the overall British death toll to 307.

The US military has warned that casualties will inevitably mount as foreign forces build up their campaign to oust militants from the southern province of Kandahar, a hotbed of bombings, assassinations and lawlessness.

Much of southern Afghanistan is blighted by the Taliban insurgency, now in its deadliest phase since the US-led invasion ousted the hardline Islamist regime and installed a Western-backed administration led by Hamid Karzai.

So far 299 NATO troops have died this year, according to AFP tallies. Last year, 520 NATO troops died -- the worst annual total yet.

McChrystal's counter-insurgency strategy, which brought sweeping changes aimed at cutting civilian casualties and winning over the population, had been credited with bringing some order to the spiralling conflict.

His strategy poured tens of thousands of extra troops into Afghanistan to win over civilians and train local forces.

Karzai's government publicly urged the White House not to remove McChrystal over disparaging remarks he made about officials in US President Barack Obama's administration in a magazine profile.

But the Afghan government later said it respected Obama's decision and welcomed the appointment of David Petraeus, the general credited with changing the direction of the Iraq conflict, to succeed McChrystal.

© 2010 AFP

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