After Rash of Deaths, UK Rethinks Afghanistan

By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 16, 2009 9:50 AM CDT
Gordon Brown is facing increasing criticism over Britain's role in Afghanistan, as the the overall death toll rose to 184.   (AP Photo/Chris Ison-pa)
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(Newser) – Eight British soldiers were killed in Afghanistan last week within just 24 hours, the worst day of casualties the UK had seen in 30 years. After 15 fatalities in July alone, Gordon Brown is facing severe criticism for underfinancing the war effort, particularly for not providing enough helicopters to troops, reports the New York Times. Washington is watching the debate closely—it relies on Britain to oversee Helmand, Afghanistan's most violent province and the world's largest opium producer.

British TV aired live coverage Tuesday of the funeral of the eight soldiers, which processed through towns and villages thronged with mourners. Brown has insisted he is increasing funding and that more helicopters would not have prevented their deaths. But 184 British soldiers have now been killed in Afghanistan—five times more than in Iraq, which the UK has quit. Most citizens still support the war, but that backing may dissipate if casualties mount.
(Read more Afghanistan stories.)