Death toll in Afghanistan fuels British opposition to war

By staff writers
July 14, 2009

The death of 15 British soldiers in just over a week has sparked renewed calls for an end to the UK's involvement in the war in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, a poll has revealed that the majority of the British public want troops withdrawn from the country by the end of the year.

Military Families Against the War joined a protest at Downing Street yesterday evening, calling for an end to “this senseless waste of young lives in an unwinnable war”.

The Stop the War Coalition delivered a letter of protest to the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. At the same time, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, a Christian NGO, renewed its call for British troops to be brought home.

The government may be worried by an ICM poll published yesterday showing that only 33 per cent of British voters believe that the deployment of UK troops is making a positive difference to Afghanistan.

42 per cent want British troops to be withdrawn immediately, while a further 14 per cent want them out within six months.

On the straightforward question of support for the war, the public seem to be evenly divided, with 47 per cent saying they are against it and 46 per cent in favour.

The British death rate in Afghanistan is now higher than in Iraq, with 184 UK troops killed there since the UK joined the US in invading the country in 2001.

The number of Afghan deaths is unclear, but the civilian death rate is reported to have doubled in the last year.

“The deaths of young British soldiers fighting a war thousands of miles from home is tragic” Chris Cole of the Fellowship of Reconciliation told Ekklesia. “In the aftermath of the recent Armed Forces Day, the obvious way to support our troops is to bring them home to be with their loved ones”.

The Stop the War Coalition said that the Prime Minister was using troops to prop up the Afghan government of Hamid Karzai, whom they accuse of colluding with warlords. They suggest that many Afghans see him as “no better than the Taliban”.

“We urge the British government to end now this futile war which, if continued, will only mean more wasted lives of British soldiers, countless deaths of Afghan civilians and further devastation of a country that has suffered from decades of war and occupation” they concluded.

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