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US Military Gives Afghan Army Weapons, Humvees, Britain to Send 800 More Troops


The United States has given thousands of weapons and hundreds of armored vehicles to Afghanistan's army as it braces for renewed fighting with Taleban insurgents in the spring.

At Thursday's handover ceremony, Afghan President Hamid Karzai thanked U.S. officials for the donation, saying it will help the army to defend the country.

Afghanistan is working to build its army into a 70,000-strong force by the end of 2008.

Also Thursday, Britain announced the deployment of an additional 800 troops to southern Afghanistan, where the Taleban are most active. This will bring the number of British troops in the war-torn country to 5,800.

Britain's Defense Secretary Des Browne said the country's overall deployment in Afghanistan will only increase by 300 soldiers since the military will reduce its manpower in Kabul by 500.

Browne also said the British forces will keep Viking armored vehicles, Apache attack helicopters and Harrier jets in southern Afghanistan until at least April 2009.

The British announcement follows arguments within NATO over which countries will supply troops to meet a shortfall on the ground in southern provinces.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration has asked Congress for an additional $10.6 billion to help strengthen Afghan security forces.

Taleban forces have historically renewed attacks when temperatures warm and Afghanistan's mountain snows melt.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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