U.S. death toll in Afghanistan hits 1,000: website

KABUL, Afghanistan Tue Feb 23, 2010 2:10am EST

A U.S. Marine from Bravo Company of the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines walks during an operation in Marjah, Helmand province, February 21, 2010. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

A U.S. Marine from Bravo Company of the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines walks during an operation in Marjah, Helmand province, February 21, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Goran Tomasevic

KABUL, Afghanistan (Reuters) - The number of American soldiers killed in Afghanistan has reached 1,000, an independent website said on Tuesday, a grim reminder that eight years of fighting has failed to defeat Taliban insurgents.

Icasualties.org said 54 U.S. troops were killed this year in Afghanistan, raising the casualties to 1,000, compared to eight in Iraq, where the total has reached 4,378. The rise to 1,000 dead coincides with one of the biggest offensives against the Taliban, a NATO-led assault in the Marjah district of Helmand, Afghanistan's most violent province.

The operation is an early test of U.S. President Barack Obama's troop surge strategy aimed as wresting control of Taliban bastions and handing them over to Afghan authorities before the start of a gradual U.S. troop withdrawal in 2011.

Afghanistan is high on Obama's foreign policy agenda and more American casualties or a military campaign that fails to bring stability to the country could harm his presidency.

Violence is at its highest level since the 2001 ouster of the Taliban. Last year was the deadliest of the war for civilians and foreign troops.

Marjah is a prime example of the challenge facing U.S. troops and their NATO allies. They have taken over key areas, but still face pockets of stiff resistance from the Taliban, who have littered roads with hidden bombs.

The success of the operation hinges on whether they can keep Taliban fighters from re-capturing their stronghold and ensure Afghan forces can secure the area on their own.

Ultimately Marjah can only be stable once the local government provides enough jobs and economic opportunities to keep the local population on its side, eradicating conditions that breed militancy, analysts say.

Obama announced in December he was adding 30,000 more U.S. troops to the Afghan war effort. He hopes to start bringing U.S. troops home from Afghanistan in the middle of 2011.

(Editing by Bryson Hull and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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Comments (13)
ladyluck wrote:
I wish that someone would explain what the reason is to stay and fight in Afghanistan. Bring these soldiers home now.

Feb 23, 2010 9:05am EST  --  Report as abuse
murrietamike wrote:
Where is all the screams from the left on the magic number 1000? Every milestone under Bush that we hit in Iraq brought sure left-wing media and kook-fringe exuberance. But where are they today? Same part of the world. Same soldiers dying? Whats the difference, where are they now?

Feb 23, 2010 10:19am EST  --  Report as abuse
gommygoomy wrote:
Holy round numbers, Batman. We’ve finally hit one of those MAGIC NUMBERS. Or at least they USED to be, Magic Numbers. When Bush was President. They not only LED THE NEWS FOR DAYS, back then, but LED THE NEWS FOR DAYS as the breathless Reorters did their giddy COUNTDOWNS.
They don’t do that anymore. I wonder why.

Feb 23, 2010 11:16am EST  --  Report as abuse
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