The U.S. military has extended by 30 days the tour of duty of 2,200 Marines who are serving in volatile southern Afghanistan.
officials Thursday said the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit will stay in
Helmand province an extra month, and will return home in November,
rather than October. They said NATO commanders requested the extension
aimed at fending off the rising Taliban insurgency, and that Secretary
of Defense Robert Gates approved the request.
The move comes as
U.N. envoy to Afghanistan Kai Eide is calling for greater cooperation
between Afghanistan and Pakistan, saying it is key to stabilizing the
region. Eide says the Afghan and Pakistani governments should enter
into a political dialogue to counter the growing insurgency in their
On Wednesday, President Bush acknowledged an
increase in troop casualties in Afghanistan and called June a "tough
month" for coalition forces.
Separately, a U.N. Special
Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy,
said children are suffering greatly from the Afghan conflict.
Coomaraswamy said many children are being killed and wounded in
violence, while others are being recruited to fight, including serving
as suicide bombers.Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.