Afghan army forces, supported by coalition aircraft and artillery, killed more than one-hundred Taleban insurgents in fighting around the Helmand province village of Musa Qalah . “The end is near for the Taleban that believe that Musa Qalah is safe from Islamic Republic of Afghanistan forces,” said U.S. Army Major Chris Belcher.
In neighboring Urzugan province, Afghan troops and their coalition allies engaged more than eighty Taleban insurgents in the Deh Rawood area, killing at least sixty-five. “As with our forces near Musa Qalah, this operation is intended to deny the enemies of peace the use of Deh Rawood as a safe haven,” said Major Belcher.
Fighting in Afghanistan has increased this year. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Kurt Volker said extremists in Afghanistan “know they cannot win in open battle, nor in an open debate of ideas.” The only chance they have to succeed, he said, “is through brutal and dramatic attacks that have no strategic value other than to create an impression of fear and failure.”
Afghanistan is making remarkable progress due to the hard work of its people and government and the support of the United States and international allies. In 2001, eight percent of Afghans had access to some form of health care. Now, with over six-hundred-seventy hospitals and clinics built and equipped, more than eighty percent of the population has access to medical care. Nearly eleven thousand doctors, midwives, and nurses have been trained.
In 2001, only some nine-hundred thousand children, all boys, were enrolled in school. Today more than five million Afghan children attend school – and more than one and a half million of them are girls. For infants and children under five, mortality in Afghanistan has dropped twenty-four percent. And there are now more than seven-thousand-four hundred kilometers of paved roadways where there were once only fifty. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more than four million Afghans have returned home since 2002.
The United States, said Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Volker, “is deeply committed to Afghanistan” and is working with “others who share our vision of hope and want to help Afghanistan succeed.”