US General: Afghan Violence to Rise

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US General: Afghan Violence to Rise

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Petraeus is the latest US official to go before Congress to defend Obama's new war strategy [AFP]

The
military situation in Afghanistan is "likely to get harder before it
gets easier", a top-ranking US general has warned, saying violence in
the country will rise in the short-term.

General David Petraeus, who executed the US-led Iraq surge in 2007,
told Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday that he expected
increased Afghan fighting in the spring and the summer.

The US general told the Committee that Afghanistan is no worse condition now than Iraq was when he arrived there two years ago.

"Indeed, the level of violence and number of violent civilian deaths
in Iraq were vastly higher than we have seen in Afghanistan," Petraeus
said.

"But,
achieving progress in Afghanistan will be hard and the progress there
likely will be slower in developing than was the progress achieved in
Iraq."

But he added the announcement by Barack Obama, the US president,
last week of an additional 30,000 US troops, "will over the next 18
months enable us to make important progress".

Tough job

Petraeus is the latest US official to go before Congress to defend Obama's new war strategy.

Al Jazeera's John Terrett said: "Apart from the issue of the 30,000
troops going into Afghanistan, the other key issue that the US congress
is obsessing over is corruption within Afghanistan.

"It is really becoming a lot clearer that this is a much more
difficult operation that may have been at first thought and is likely
to last longer than that magic date of July 11."

All of the additional US forces are expected to be deployed by the
summer or autum, aiming to reverse Taliban momentum and allow for a
gradual withdrawal starting in July 2011, according to Obama's plan.

Officials, including Petraeus, appear to be bracing the US public for trouble ahead, including rising casualties.

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