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25 Aug, 2009 14:07

US to engage more Afghan soldiers to fight Taliban

“Now that the Afghan presidential elections are over, it is high time for the US military to regain the initiative and to consider decisive military action,” says RT military analyst Evgeny Khrushchev.

US forces are battling militants in the country, but  they have a long road ahead as 10,000 US Marines launched an offensive against the Taliban in July in Helmand province, famous for providing the considerable bulk of the world’s opium poppy crop.

By the end of 2009, there will be 68,000 US forces in Afghanistan, twice as many as in 2008.

Khrushchev concludes that, “Until the US Military Command could make sure that the US military units operate only with the equal or even bigger number of Afghan units – until then it will be an exclusively American exercise in futility with inevitable collateral damage and negative consequences to the US image, not only in Afghanistan, but all over the region.”

Preliminary results for last week’s presidential poll in Afghanistan give incumbent Hamid Karzai a slight lead. His main rival, Abdullah Abdullah, is close behind.

So far, 10 per cent of the ballots have been counted.

Both Karzai and Abdullah had earlier claimed victory, with the latter accusing the president’s camp of ballot rigging and voter intimidation.

The final results will not be announced until mid- to late-September. Fifty per cent of the vote is needed to avoid a run-off.

UN monitors say there were some problems which will be investigated.

The voting took place amid widespread security fears, and threats from the Taliban are thought to have affected voter turnout, particularly in the south of the country.

Read also Afghanistan, a 21st-Century Cuba