November 06, 2009

UK: Public support for Afghan strategy plummets

November 5, 2009 - 4:45 pm ET

LONDON (AFP) – The public is rapidly losing confidence that the war in Afghanistan can be won, after the killing of five soldiers by a rogue Afghan policeman, a new poll showed Thursday.

The YouGov poll found 57 percent of people thought British troops were not winning the conflict against Taliban insurgents, and "victory is not possible," an increase from 48 percent just two weeks ago.

Thirty-three percent think the war is being won, or that victory is possible eventually.

Consequently, 35 percent want troops withdrawn immediately -- compared with 25 percent two weeks ago. Another 38 percent want most troops withdrawn soon and the rest in the next 12 months or so, the poll showed.

Only 20 percent think troops should stay the course, down from 29 percent two weeks ago, the poll for Channel 4 News said.

The poll comes amid increased pressure on Prime Minister Gordon Brown's government over its strategy in the war-ravaged country after the deaths of the British five soldiers.

An apparently rogue Afghan policeman with suspected Taliban links shot dead the soldiers at a checkpoint in Nad Ali district of southern Helmand province on Tuesday.

The attack, one of the most deadly single incidents during a surge in military deaths this year, raised new questions about the safety of coalition troops as world leaders work to boost training of Afghan forces.

Separately, a soldier died in an explosion Thursday, bringing to 230 the number of British troops who have been killed since operations in Afghanistan began in October 2001.

Brown announced plans last month to send an extra 500 British troops on top of the 9,000 already deployed.

YouGov interviewed 1,021 adults on Wednesday and Thursday.

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