Pentagon admits to "tough week" as casualty mounts in Afghanistan
As foreign troops in Afghanistan suffer heavy losses this week, a U.S. Defense Department spokesman admitted Wednesday NATO forces are facing "tough week" in that country, Xinhua reported.
"The fact of the matter is that we have taken casualties and we've taken quite a few this week. It's been a tough week," said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman. A total of 23 foreign troops were killed in Afghanistan in escalating violence since Monday, including four U.S. soldiers who died as their helicopter was shot down by militants in Helmand province earlier Wednesday.
Ten NATO service members were killed in attacks Monday, the bloodiest day for U.S. and NATO forces in two years. The toll include seven Americans, two Australians and a French soldier. Eight were killed Tuesday, and one British soldier was killed Wednesday apart from the four U.S. soldiers.
Independent count said up to Wednesday, 249 foreign troops have been killed in Afghanistan this year.
The Pentagon attributed the reason of high casualty to increased troops level. Whitman said now there are more foreign forces in Afghanistan than at any other time, "so the level of activity is high," and "obviously the opportunities for hostile contact have gone up."
There now are about 94,000 U.S. service members in Afghanistan with 48,000 allies. The number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan will grow to about 98,000 by September. The number of NATO and other allied troops also will increase.