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Afghanistan: Commander Says ISAF Needs More Troops

Berlin, 8 August 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The outgoing commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan says the force needs another 10,000 soldiers, and that its mandate should be extended beyond Kabul. German General Norbert van Heyst made the comments on German television today. He said ISAF troops should be deployed in the provinces to ensure security ahead of next year's planned elections. The ISAF currently comprises 4,600 troops but its mandate is limited to Kabul.

Earlier, the German defense minister said German troops could be deployed just outside Kabul in an extension of their current duties. Peter Struck said there was a "good chance" of sending a reconstruction team, including German soldiers, to Charikar, about 50 kilometers from Kabul.

Germany and the Netherlands are due to hand over command of the UN-mandated ISAF to NATO on 11 August.