US General Petraeus arrives in Kabul to take over Afghan war

Last Updated: Friday, July 2, 2010 - 23:21

Kabul: US General David Petraeus arrived in
Kabul today to take over as commander of the Afghan war, a
NATO official said to a news agency.

"General Petraeus arrived in Kabul by plane at 1400 GMT
and took a helicopter to ISAF headquarters," said the official
said on referring to NATO`s International Security Assistance
Force.

Petraeus takes over as commander of the 140,000 US and
NATO soldiers in Afghanistan fighting a Taliban insurgency
amid growing concern that the war is bogged down as troop
casualties reach record heights.

He is expected to make his public debut in Kabul
tomorrow, when he attends celebrations at the US embassy
marking the Fourth of July as US independence day.

His appointment was confirmed in Washington on Wednesday,
in a 99-0 Senate vote, a day before the House of
Representatives approved a bill to pump another USD 37 billion
into the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The funds will cover the cost of deploying an extra
30,000 troops to turn around the faltering campaign, as part
of a counter-insurgency strategy devised by Petraeus and
supported by US President Barack Obama.

Petraeus replaces US General Stanley McChrystal, sacked
last month after he was quoted in Rolling Stone magazine
disparaging US officials, including the president, and leaders
of NATO allies also committed to the war.

A four-star general, Petraeus has said he will not alter
strategy, despite complaints from soldiers that they are
hamstrung by the rules of engagement, and an alarming rise in
the number of foreign troops dying on the battlefield.

He vowed yesterday to give his forces the right firepower
to fight the Taliban but insisted sparing civilians remained a
priority.

Civilian casualties are an incendiary issue in
Afghanistan, where many civilians blame the very presence of
foreign forces for the ongoing violence.

PTI



First Published: Friday, July 2, 2010 - 23:21

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