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Friday, October 26, 2007

Taliban power grows - Nick Paton Walsh

A 30 minutes drive from the centre of Kabul, and the Taliban is in the ascendant. The insurgency is now encroaching on the capital.

An alliance facing a crisis of resolve in Afghanistan, its leaders suggest, meeting in Holland tomorrow to try and boost their troop commitments.

Robert Gates, US Defence Secretary said: "I am not satisfied that an alliance whose members have over two million soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen cannot find the modest additional resources that have been committed for Afghanistan."

America has 27,000 troops in theatre. 92 dead so far this year, and a record 563 injured.

NATO's other contributors are suffering from heavy casualties and a drop in domestic support.

Key to tomorrow's meeting in Holland are the Dutch, with 1700 troops in Uruzgun - 11 dead in total. They must decide in the coming weeks if they will stay on past 2009, which a 51 per cent majority of Dutch oppose.

Their decision will impact upon Canada, with 2500 troops in Helmand. They've suffered the heaviest casualties this year with 27 dead. Only 14 per cent of Canadians want this mission to carry on past 2009.

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