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U.K. sending 1,400 more troops to Afghanistan

Britain will send an extra 1,400 troops to Afghanistan after failing to persuade most other NATO members to boost forces fighting the Taliban, Defense Secretary Des Browne told parliament on Monday.
/ Source: Reuters

Britain will send an extra 1,400 troops to Afghanistan after failing to persuade most other NATO members to boost forces fighting the Taliban, Defense Secretary Des Browne told parliament on Monday.

"In terms of overall numbers, this adds up to nearly 1,400 additional personnel, the majority of whom will deploy over the course of the summer," said Browne.

"They will be based mostly in Helmand (province) with some at Kandahar airfield ... in total our forces in Afghanistan will increase from around 6,300 to settle at about 7,700 personnel," he said.

Last year was the bloodiest in Afghanistan since U.S.-led troops overthrew the Taliban government in 2001 for harboring Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida network after September 11.

NATO, the United States and the Taliban are all promising spring offensives in what is widely regarded as a crunch year for Afghanistan, a country still in crisis more than five years after the Taliban's fall.

Browne said the current assumption was that the British forces were committed until 2009.

"I have lobbied our (NATO) partners consistently for more help in these regions and I will continue to do so," said Browne. "But it is increasingly clear that at present, when it comes to the most demanding tasks in the more challenging parts of Afghanistan, only we and a small number of key allies are prepared to step forward."