United Nations security assessments show an escalating pattern of violence in Afghanistan in recent months, contradicting the largely upbeat conclusions of a White House review of progress published less than a fortnight ago.
UN charts escalation of violence in Afghanistan
By Rob Crilly, Islamabad
The assessments appear to contradict the White House review, which claimed the troop surge had succeeded in halting Taliban momentum in much of the country Photo: AP
An official confirmed that violence had gripped some areas that had once been regarded as stable, at the same time as it emerged that confidential UN maps charted a decline in security from March to October this year.
The charts show that insecurity in the south – the scene of the fiercest fighting between US-led forces and insurgents – has not receded, despite President Barack Obama's decision to send an extra 30,000 troops.
During the same period, 16 districts across the north and east had seen security worsen, according to The Wall Street Journal, which obtained the documents.
The assessments appear to contradict the White House review, which claimed the troop surge had succeeded in halting Taliban momentum in much of the country.
Kieran Dwyer, communications director of the UN mission in Afghanistan, said security for aid workers had worsened in some parts of the country.
"Throughout 2010 it is well known there have been serious incidents in many districts that had previously been more stable," he told The Daily Telegraph.
"It's not necessarily more fighting: it is insurgents targeting unarmed civilians trying to go about their normal work, which is the sort of thing we base our assessments on."
There are about 140,000 US-led Nato troops in Afghanistan. A limited withdrawal of troops is expected to start in July 2011 and foreign troops are preparing to hand over to Afghan forces in 2014.
President Obama's review concluded that although the gains were "fragile and reversible", US forces were on target to begin coming home next year. Mr Obama said that al-Qaeda's leadership was "hunkered down" and finding it harder to recruit, train and plot attacks.
Yet many analysts disagree, pointing to increasing numbers of insurgent attacks in 2010. This year has been the bloodiest so far for foreign forces, with more than 700 servicemen and women killed.
An alternative review of the Afghan conflict, written by Matt Waldman, Royal United Services Institute, concludes: "The US-led coalition is not winning, or even beginning to win, in Afghanistan.
"For each of the last four years, military officials and politicians have said that they are starting to turn the corner in the conflict. In each of the last four years the insurgency has grown larger, more powerful and more deadly."
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