3,476 foreign troops fell as Afghan war turns 13
On this day (Oct 7) 13 years ago, the US launched airstrikes in Afghanistan targeting Taliban and al Qaeda positions as part of the Operation Enduring Freedom that followed the 9/11 attacks on New York and Pentagon.
The war’s public aims were to dismantle Al Qaeda and denying it a safe basis of operation in Afghanistan by removing the Taliban from power.
US President George W Bush demanded that the Taliban hand over Osama Bin Laden and expel Al Qaeda. The Taliban asked bin Laden to leave the country, but declined to extradite him without evidence of his involvement in the 9/11 attacks.
The United States refused to negotiate and launched the operation on October 7, 2001 with the United Kingdom. The two were later joined by other forces, including the Northern Alliance.
The US and its allies drove the Taliban from power and built military bases near major cities across the country. Most Al Qaeda and Taliban were not captured, escaping to neighboring Pakistan or retreating to rural or remote mountainous regions.
In December 2001, the UN Security Council established the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), to oversee military operations in the country and train Afghan forces.
In 2003, NATO assumed leadership of ISAF, with troops from 43 countries. NATO members provided the core of the force.
One portion of US forces in Afghanistan operated under NATO command; the rest remained under direct American command.
There had been 150,000 NATO/ISAF troops in Afghanistan in the past against their current number of 40000. Many countries started pulling out their troops from Afghanistan two years back, when the Afghan government launched the security transition from foreign troops to Afghan counterparts.
The US Defence Department a day earlier announced that 2,335 American troops had died in Afghanistan during the 13-year-long war, but gave no figures for the wounded soldiers. However, according to icasualties.com, 17674 American troops have been injured in Afghanistan since 2001.
The website puts at 3476 the death toll for foreign troops so far in Afghanistan, most of them Americans. The fallen soldiers include 453 British, 158 Canadian, 86 French, 54 German, 48 Italian, 43 Danish, 41 Australian, 40 Polish and 37 Spanish.
These countries have so far not shared information about soldiers injured in Afghanistan. According to a UK newspaper Guardian, so far more than 15000 British troops have been injured in the war-torn country.
Political analyst Mohammad Hassan Haqyar said foreign countries suffered back-breaking economic losses in addition to heavy personnel casualties in the 13-year-old war in Afghanistan.
He believed some countries were not making public the number of their troops killed or wounded in Afghanistan to avoid public fury at home.
He also believed the number of soldiers killed and wounded in the conflict was higher than officially revealed.
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