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Afghanistan And The War On Terror

Coalition NATO-ISAF and Afghan army forces continued their military operations in southern Afghanistan, fighting Taleban insurgents in the Nahr Surkh district of Helmand province. A terrorist bomb attack on a crowded market in Panjwayi in Kandahar province killed innocent bystanders, many of them children.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld says the tactics used by terrorists in Afghanistan pose a serious challenge:

"In this period of asymmetric warfare, irregular warfare, one side puts their men and women at risk in uniform and obeys the laws of war, while the other side uses them [the laws of war] against us. One side does all it can to avoid civilian casualties, while the other side uses civilians as shields, and then skillfully orchestrates a public outcry when the other sides accidentally kills civilians in their midst. One side is held to exacting standards of near-perfection; the other side is held to no standards and no accountability at all."

NATO has assumed command of military operations in southern Afghanistan, in addition to its continuing responsibilities in operations in the northern and western regions of the country. NATO is expected to increase the number of its troops in Afghanistan to around eighteen thousand this fall.

"As NATO moves more and more troops into Afghanistan, we're going to see more and more opportunity to help the southern sector [of Afghanistan] regain its footing against the Taleban," said General Peter Pace, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Jamil Haider of Bamiyan province says he is grateful to the U.S.-led coalition and NATO troops serving in Afghanistan. "Before foreign troops came, the Taleban regime showed only cruelty to the Hazara people who live in this area," he said. "We can now live freely in Bamiyan," he says.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsefeld says for its part, the U.S. will not, "run away from a bunch of murderers and extremists who try to kill. . . .and to tear down what they could never build."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.