Coalition troops had difficult month of May in Afghanistan
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan — May was the deadliest month since November 2010 for coalition troops in Afghanistan, according to data from the independent website icasualties.org, which tracks such statistics.
The number of coalition casualties has not decreased significantly from the same period last year.
Coalition spokesmen have said many times that the Taliban is weakened, its “momemtum halted” and popular support removed, but acknowledged that its gains could be “fragile and reversible.”
Between Jan. 1 and May 31 of this year, 217 coalition servicemembers were killed in Afghanistan, according to icasualties, compared to 220 fatalities over the same period last year. More than a quarter of those deaths — 57 — came in May. Of those, 36 were American.
The Taliban announced in late April that their “spring offensive” would begin May 1. Since the announcement, the insurgent group has claimed responsibility for a number of high-profile and brazen attacks, including a May 28 attack in the relatively quiet northern Takhar province that killed a regional head of the Afghan National Police and two German soldiers and wounded a German general, as well as a May 26 double bombing in Shorabak district of Kandahar province, bordering Pakistan, which took the lives of six U.S. soldiers and two U.S. airmen.
Coalition commanders have said that the Taliban has been severely weakened by operations throughout the winter.
But April was also a violent month, with 51 coalition troops killed, 46 of them American.
Taken together, April and May of this year were far worse than for the same time period in any other year in the now almost decade-long war.
Coalition forces continue to push into new areas seen as Taliban safe havens, such as eastern Now Zad district in Helmand province, where a U.S. Marine dog handler was killed May 26 by insurgent gunfire.
Three troops died in the first three days of June, and at least 158 Americans have died in Afghanistan so far this year, according to icasualties. June 2010 was the deadliest month of the entire war, with 103 coalition deaths.