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Xinhua, December 28, 2009

U.S. troops’ death toll in Afghanistan doubles in 2009

A total of 940 U.S. soldiers have died in the U.S.-led Afghanistan War so far, while the total fatalities of coalition troops have mounted to 1,553.

By Wang Yan

KABUL -- With the death of a U.S. soldier on Saturday, U.S. military fatalities in Afghanistan this year have increased to exactly twice of those in the previous year, according to statistics released by an independent website on Monday.

Cemetery of troops killed in Afghanistan
Sarah Walton hugs the tombstone of her husband, Lt. Col. James Walton, at Arlington National Cemetery after placing a Christmas wreath at his graveside Dec.12,09 in Arlington Virginia. James was killed in Afghanistan. (Photo: Getty Images)

A U.S. service member died following an IED strike in southern Afghanistan on Saturday, said a press release issued by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) on Sunday.

The killed soldier raised the U.S. death toll in Afghanistan this year to 310, while 155 U.S. soldiers were killed in the same country last year, according to iCasualties.org, which compiles information about military deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Deaths of foreign troops in Afghanistan also register a sharp rise from 295 in 2008 to 506 this year, up by more than 70 percent, according to the website.

The UK, which has the second largest forces in Afghanistan, has seen its armed forces fatalities reach 106 this year, more than twice of the 51 soldiers killed in 2008.

A total of 940 U.S. soldiers have died in the U.S.-led Afghanistan War so far, while the total fatalities of coalition troops have mounted to 1,553.

The U.S. Defense Department said on its website that as of Dec.24, 2009, 859 members of the U.S. military had died in and around Afghanistan, with 933 dead worldwide, as a result of the U.S.-led Afghanistan War launched in late 2001.

2009 has already proved the deadliest for the forces of the United States and its allies in Afghanistan.

With the military surge ordered by U.S. President Barak Obama earlier this year, U.S. troops have intensified the battles against Taliban militants by launching major offensives into the Taliban heartland of Helmand and Kandahar provinces, where the casualties were the heaviest across the conflict-ridden country.

More than twice as many U.S. troops died in Afghanistan in 2009 than in Iraq, U.S. casualty records show, and Afghanistan is likely to become an even deadlier place for American forces as reinforcements are rushed there to battle insurgents.
...
"It looks like 2010 is going to be pretty nasty" in Afghanistan, said John Pike, director of globalsecurity.org. "It's going to be nasty simply because there will be more Americans to be shot. The Taliban are unabated."
USA Today, Dec. 30, 2009

Taliban insurgents also adopted new tactics by launching more suicide and roadside bomb attacks against foreign and Afghan troops. According to iCasualties.org, 269 out of 437 hostile deaths this year were inflicted by Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks.

As the Afghan presidential election was held on Aug. 20, the Taliban escalated their attacks against foreign troops and the Afghan government, which led to heavy casualties till October.

The death of 310th U.S. soldier in Afghanistan came almost one month after U.S. President announced a new strategy for Afghanistan, including sending 30,000 extra troops and starting to withdraw U.S. forces in July 2011.

With the extra troops pledged by NATO allies, some 150,000 foreign troops will be stationed in Afghanistan in the coming year. The surge of foreign troops is expected to intensify the battle against anti-government militants in Afghanistan, which may result in higher casualties, analysts said.

The Taliban have said that the outfit would continue resistance against U.S. and its national and international allies, and increased their activities in December.

Category: US-NATO - Views: 14427