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Exaggerated Deaths In Afghanistan

The Associated Press recently reported that the Taliban have exaggerated the claims of its apparent successes against NATO and U.S. forces.

During the past year the Taliban claims to have killed 5,220 Western soldiers, destroyed 2,818 NATO and Afghan military vehicles, while downing 31 aircraft and killing 7,552 Afghan soldiers and policemen.

The number of Western soldiers the Taliban claims it has killed is fantastical -- 20 times higher than the one put out by the Department of Defense.

NATO is usually shy about describing the losses of its opponents, but the separate U.S.-led coalition frequently releases numbers of Taliban fighters they kill. Coalition statements almost always claim to have killed or captured senior Taliban commanders.

If one tallied the number of Taliban fighters killed from these coalition statements over the past seven years the number would run into thousands.

Afghan civilians are of course, the real victims of this war. When Afghan civilians lost their lives due to Western bombing, they were part of merely "collateral damage."

And the Taliban maintains that innocent Muslims killed because of their attacks are martyrs and go straight to heaven. Though they claim to be targeting Western and Afghan forces, more often civilians pay the price. And, unlike in Iraq, nobody is counting them.

-- Abubakar Siddique

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