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U.S. says security in Afghanistan improving

(Xinhua)

15:07, October 29, 2011

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Defense Department on Friday touted security progress made by foreign troops and Afghan forces over the past three months in Afghanistan, according to a report submitted to Congress.

The Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan, however, acknowledged the eastern border area of the country remains a problem. It indicates that levels of violence fell in other parts of Afghanistan over the period from the beginning of April through the end of September.

Afghan national security forces, the report said, made great strides in the past months in both quantity of recruits and the training. And Afghan units are taking over the security mission in seven areas of the country containing roughly 25 percent of the population.

"Although security continues to improve, the insurgency's safe havens in Pakistan, as well as the limited capacity of the Afghan government, remain the biggest threats to the process of turning security gains into a durable, stable Afghanistan," the report said.

Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan has been battered, the report noted, and coalition and Afghan forces have made gains against the overall insurgency. Still, the report said, the insurgency remains resilient with the safe havens inside Pakistan providing areas for insurgents to recuperate and resupply and plan and train for attacks in Afghanistan.

Insurgents have launched a number of high-profile attacks in Afghanistan, the report said. Yet, after five years of increasing insurgent attacks, this past year saw a reduction in such attacks and they continue to decline.

The Afghan security forces continue to make progress, the report said. There are currently about 97,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. By the end of the year, according to the report, that number will drop by 10,000.

By November 2012, the report said, another 23,000 U.S. troops will depart. By the end of 2014, all U.S. combat troops will be out of Afghanistan and hand over security mission to Afghan forces.

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