Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Afghan war getting 'harder and longer'

German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg has said the war in Afghanistan is getting "harder and longer than in previous winters."

Guttenberg arrived in war-ravaged Afghanistan on Monday to visit Germany's military base in Mazar-i-Sharif, a city located in the northern province of Kunduz. 

The German official pointed out that he made the trip because it is important to get a clear picture of the realities on the ground. 

Guttenberg conceded that some progress has been made in recent months and said the pull-out of German troops from Afghanistan may start as early as 2012 despite the current debate in the country's parliament over extending Germany's mandate in the war-hit country. 

The German minister warned, however, that this objective is "only realistic if it is backed up in a sensible manner." 

Around 4,500 German soldiers are currently deployed in Afghanistan. 

Earlier, a NATO spokesman warned that foreign soldiers are likely to face more violence in the turbulent country next year. 

The US-led alliance has lost at least 692 troops only in 2010 -- making it the deadliest year for NATO since the start of the war nine years ago. 

There are currently more than 150,000 US-led foreign forces stationed in violence-wracked Afghanistan. 

Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians have lost their lives in US-led airstrikes and ground operations in various parts of the country over the past few months, with Afghans becoming increasingly outraged over the seemingly endless number of deadly assaults. Source

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