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thedrifter
11-04-08, 12:49 PM
Petraeus arrives in Afghanistan
By Fisnik Abrashi - The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Nov 4, 2008 11:08:53 EST

KABUL, Afghanistan — The American general in charge of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq arrived in Kabul on Tuesday after meetings in neighboring Pakistan, a military spokesman said.

The trip was Gen. David Petraeus’ first to Afghanistan since he took charge of the U.S. Central Command on Oct. 31, said Col. Greg Julian, chief U.S. military spokesman in the country.

His visit comes at a time when many indicators suggest Afghanistan is in a downward spiral of violence. This year has been the deadliest for U.S. troops in the country since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. Attacks against Westerners have risen sharply in Kabul, the Afghan capital, over the last month.

More than 5,200 people — mostly militants — have died in insurgency-related violence this year alone.

Petreaus’ stop in Afghanistan follows a two-day visit to neighboring Pakistan, a key U.S. ally in the war on terror. Pakistan is also battling an insurgency in its tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. Al-Qaida members are also known to operate in the same region.

Petraeus has been credited with turning the tide of violence in Iraq, and many expect to see some of the tactics he employed there in the Afghan campaign, such as co-opting local tribal leaders to resist the Taliban.

During his stay in Afghanistan, Petraeus will meet with Afghan leaders and top U.S. military officials, including U.S. Gen. David McKiernan, head of the NATO-led force. Petraeus is in the country to conduct an “initial assessment” of the situation, Julian said.

Though the U.S. now has more troops in Afghanistan than ever — some 32,000 — McKiernan has requested at least three more brigades to help cover violent areas it now can’t reach. McKiernan says the troops can help create the conditions for governance to take hold in areas of the country where the Afghan government now has little presence.

U.S.-led troops on Tuesday killed five insurgents in southern Helmand province, after the militants ambushed their patrol, the coalition said in a statement.

Meanwhile, a U.S. civilian shot an Afghan civilian in Kandahar province after the Afghan allegedly set another U.S. civilian on fire, the military said. It did not identify the U.S. civilians or who they were working for.

Ellie