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Pentagon Issues Downbeat Assessment On Afghanistan

Pentagon issues downbeat assessment on Afghanistan
By Jonathan S. Landay | McClatchy Newspapers | Yahoo! News

The Pentagon Wednesday issued a downbeat assessment of the situation in Afghanistan , saying that only one in four Afghans in strategically important areas currently back President Hamid Karzai's government even as the Taliban expand their insurgency and install shadow local governments.

The report to Congress outlined some areas of progress, including a leveling off of violence during the last three months, improved counter-insurgency cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistani and the finding that 84 percent of Afghans feel that security is good or fair.

Yet the overall level of violence rose 87 percent between February 2009 and March 2010 , driven in part by a major U.S.-led offensive earlier this year to push the Taliban out of strongholds around Marjah in the southern opium-producing province of Helmand, according to the report.

The report underscored the challenges facing President Barack Obama , who inaugurated a new strategy to crush al Qaida while preventing Afghanistan from reverting to a sanctuary from which Islamic extremists could be launch attacks against the U.S. and its allies.

The strategy calls for a 30,000-troop increase that will bring the number of American forces in Afghanistan to some 98,000 by August. U.S. allies, currently at some 46,500 troops, have pledged to send 9,000 additional soldiers. Read more.

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