Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that casualties are up significantly in Afghanistan, both for U.S. forces and for civilians. According to the article, 29 U.S. troops died in Afghanistan in the first two months of 2009 compared with eight deaths in 2008.
Civilian casualties are also increasing, with 100 civilians being killed by the U.S and allied forces, compared with sixty who have been killed by so-called militants or insurgents. The Red Cross is warning that as the U.S. escalates the war, civilians could bear the brunt of the increased fighting.
Last year, an estimated 4,000 Afghan civilians were killed, including 680 who were killed by U.S. operations.
Afghan Opposition to US Escalation
Over the weekend, the Christian Science Monitor also reported that as President Obama plans to add an additional 17,000 troops to Afghanistan, a growing number of Afghans are expressing opposition to the troop build-up:
“Parliamentarian Shukria Barakzai says she has an innovative amendment to Washington’s planned injection of up to 30,000 new troops here.
‘Send us 30,000 scholars instead. Or 30,000 engineers. But don’t send more troops – it will just bring more violence.’
Ms. Barakzai is among the growing number of Afghans – especially in the Pashtun south – who oppose a troop increase here, posing what could be the biggest challenge to the Obama administration’s stabilization strategy.
‘At least half the country is deeply suspicious of the new troops,’ says Kabul-based political analyst Waheed Muzjda.”
According to the article, many cite civilian casualties–which increased last year–and home raids for their opposition.