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Report: Afghan forces capable but feeling pressure

  |   Oct. 25, 2013 at 12:30 PM
LONDON, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Afghan forces are capable of defending the country even though they took a hit because of insurgent attacks, a British monthly assessment said Friday.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague submitted to members of Parliament an eight-page monthly assessment on operations in Afghanistan.

"As expected, insurgent attacks and Afghan National Security Forces casualty rates increased through September following a summer period which was quieter than previous years," his report read.

Hague's report said Afghan forces have shown themselves to be an '"effective fighting force" in major urban areas but are facing "increasing insurgent pressure" in rural parts of the country.

British forces are wrapping up operations in Afghanistan as international forces transition from a combat to an advisory force in the country. Hague said there will be approximately 5,200 British troops in Afghanistan at the end of this year, down from the 9,000 at the start of 2013.

Gherardo Pontrandolfi, head of the Red Cross delegation in Afghanistan, was less optimistic in a country update published Thursday.

"Ordinary Afghans are forced to flee their homes and seek safety elsewhere. At the same time, it is becoming ever more difficult for aid organizations to reach the people who urgently need their help," he said in a statement. "This situation is untenable."

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