KABUL: Nearly a month after the September 11 attacks that killed 3,000 people, the US invaded Afghanistan — where, 15 years on, thousands continue to die each year.
Afghanistan, which the US invaded on October 7, 2001 in a bid to topple the Taliban, has become Washington’s longest military intervention since Vietnam and its most costly, now crossing $100 billion.
The country remains wracked by insecurity as the resurgent Taliban dealt Afghan forces serious blows in 2015, the first year they led security operations in Afghanistan, taking over from Nato.
The militants continue to launch repeated attacks on urban centres, including an assault this week on the strategic northern city of Kunduz, while the capital Kabul is often rocked by bomb blasts. US military officials recently described the situation as a “stalemate”.
The Taliban threat forced President Barack Obama to slow plans to draw down US troop numbers at the end of this year. Some 8,400 will remain in the war-torn country next year, compared to the 5,500 initially planned.
A record 5,100 civilian casualties, including 1,600 deaths, were recorded in the first half of this year, according to the United Nations.
The previous year saw 11,000 deaths and injuries from attacks, mines and fighting between militants and government and foreign forces, which has spread to 31 of the country’s 34 provinces.
But the true human cost of these 15 years is impossible to establish because deaths of Afghans in the war’s early years were not recorded. Since 2009, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has recorded 23,000 deaths and 41,000 wounded.