June was the deadliest month for foreign troops in Afghanistan since the 2001 fall of the Taliban and the second in a row in which casualties exceeded those in Iraq, official figures showed Tuesday.
Forty-nine soldiers from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the separate US-led coalition died in combat, attacks or accidents in June, according to an AFP tally based on military statements.
June accounted for more than 40 percent of the 122 deaths of foreign soldiers in Afghanistan during 2008, according to the independent website icasualties.org.
Most were killed by roadside bombs hitting their convoys or patrols.
ISAF spokesman General Carlos Branco said the figures should be seen in the context of rising numbers of international forces fighting a resurgent Taliban militia.
“ISAF has many more soldiers now than in the past and is now going to places where it was not going before,” Branco told AFP.
By contrast, 31 soldiers including 29 Americans were killed in Iraq in June despite the fact that there are more than twice as many troops there as in Afghanistan, icasualties figures showed.
International casualties in Afghanistan also outstripped those in Iraq in May.
Foreign soldier deaths in Afghanistan hit 23 in May, 19 of them by hostile fire, while in Iraq the number of coalition soldiers killed dropped to 21, of whom 17 where in action.
“If you want to compare the same period last year with the year to date (January 1- June 21) you find 55 in 2007 and 70 in 2008. However, comparisons in this domain can be very misleading if you don’t put them into context,” Branco said.
He said that in January 2007 ISAF had 37,493 members and as of January 2008 there were nearly 50 000.
“The ratio of killed in action per 1,000 troops in 2007 and 2008 is nearly the same. The ratio of killed in action per military engagements in 2007 and 2008 is again the same,” he said.
Published: Tuesday July 1, 2008
Source: The Raw Story