Three U.S. service members have been killed in Afghanistan, bringing the toll for July to at least 63 and making it the deadliest month for American forces in the nearly 9-year-war.
A NATO statement Friday said the three died in two separate blasts in southern Afghanistan on Thursday. The statement gives no nationalities but U.S. officials say they were all Americans. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity pending notification of kin.
That brings the U.S. death toll for the month to at least 63 according to an Associated Press count. June had been the deadliest month for the U.S. with 60 deaths and for the overall NATO led force with 104 fatalities.
U.S. and NATO commanders had warned that casualties would rise as the international military force ramps up the war against the Taliban, especially in their southern strongholds in Helmand and Kandahar provinces. President Barack Obama ordered 30,000 reinforcements to Afghanistan last December in a bid to turn back a resurgent Taliban.
The American deaths this month include Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin McNeley from Kingman, Arizona, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Jarod Newlove, 25, from the Seattle area. They went missing last Friday in Logar province south of Kabul, and the Taliban announced they were holding one of the sailors.
McNeley’s body was recovered there Sunday and Newlove’s body was pulled from a river Wednesday evening, Afghan officials said. The Taliban offered no explanation for Newlove’s death, but Afghan officials speculated he died of wounds suffered when the two were ambushed by the Taliban.
July’s grim milestone was reached as U.S. military leaders issued angry warnings to the WikiLeaks website, saying the site’s publication of more than 90,000 classified military documents put American and Afghan lives at risk.
In another sign that the Afghan war’s end is nowhere in sight, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations told CBS News on Thursday that President Obama’s strategy in the neighboring country was doomed to failure.
“In my personal opinion, the way the war is being fought, it doesn’t seem winnable,” Haroon told CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk.
Haroon said he believed insurgent attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan would decrease when U.S. and other Western troops pulled out of the Asian nations.
Those attacks, and “improvised explosive device” (IED) bomb strikes in particular, have increased dramatically in recent years. CBS News correspondent Mandy Clark reports that IEDs now account for about two thirds of U.S. fatalities in Afghanistan.
The trend is made startlingly apparent by a video posted on YouTube by an antiwar group. The video shows a map of Afghanistan and marks the location of IED strikes in a time-lapse from January 2004 to December 2009. The data used to produce the video was apparently taken from the WikiLeaks documents, which are mostly low-level intelligence field reports filed by U.S. service members.
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