Top U.S. officials are calling for greater efforts to prevent civilian deaths in Afghanistan.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Friday every civilian casualty "is
a defeat" for U.S.-led forces and "a setback for the Afghan government."
also accused Iran of playing a "double game" in Afghanistan saying it
wants good ties with Afghan people while giving insurgents weapons and
Gates spoke in Brussels after NATO members threw their
support behind a plan aimed at shifting momentum in the fight against
The new plan calls for an overhaul of the military
command structure in Afghanistan, centralizing control of military and
training operations as the United States prepares to send an additional
21,000 troops to battle the Taliban.
new commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley
McChrystal, told NATO defense ministers he takes his responsibility
"very, very seriously."
NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop
Scheffer warns the alliance's efforts in Afghanistan will not be easy
at a time when "enemies" are killing civilians and burning schools.
has seen a surge in violence in recent months. NATO says attacks
between January and May were up nearly 60 percent compared to the same
time last year. And the commander of U.S. forces in South Asia and the
Middle East, General David Petraeus, says the violence will likely
increase as international forces attack militant sanctuaries and safe
But more help could soon be on the way. Spain has
pledged to send another 450 troops to help with security during the
upcoming election, although the move still needs approval from
Afghan officials said Friday a roadside bomb blast
killed three Afghan soldiers in the eastern province of Paktika.
Britain's Ministry of Defense said a blast killed a British soldier a
day earlier near the southern city of Kandahar.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.