NATO chief mourns Britain's 300th death in Afghanistan

21st June 2010, Comments 0 comments

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen expressed sympathy to Britain on Monday over its 300th military fatality in Afghanistan, but he said the deaths were not in vain.

"I express my deep condolences to the United Kingdom for the losses British forces have suffered in Afghanistan," Rasmussen said in a statement.

"My thoughts are in particular with the families of the 300 British soldiers who have lost their lives in this vital mission," he said.

After the announcement, British Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to withdraw troops as soon as the war-torn state can handle its own security.

The grim landmark comes during a year which has already seen the second-highest number of British fatalities since operations began in 2001 -- 55 -- and amid signs that most Britons want the 9,500 in Afghanistan troops pulled out.

"These soldiers, and their comrades from 45 countries who serve in the mission, have helped to ensure that Afghanistan is no longer a safe haven for terrorists who can threaten our streets, airports and metros," Rasmussen said.

"A safer Afghanistan means a safer world; our soldiers are making an enormous sacrifice, but they are also making steady progress in helping to meet that goal," he said.

© 2010 AFP

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