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French troops: We won’t go to Afghanistan
Troops in a military base in France have opposed their deployment to Afghanistan amid dwindling support of French forces being there.
According to French media, troops in the 27th battalion stationed in a southern France military base said on Friday that they were unwilling to go to Afghanistan as part of France’s mission in the central Asian country.
The troops’ refusal to go to the war-ravaged country comes as 10 French soldiers were killed in Afghanistan in August.
The August ambush is the deadliest ground attack on international forces since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and the heaviest single death toll for the French military since the 1983 bombing of a barracks in Beirut killed 58 French paratroopers.
The Taliban and Former PM Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who leads Hezb-i-Islami group, separately claimed responsibility for the attack on the French troops amid speculation that they were killed by ’friendly-fire’ from NATO planes that had come to help them escape the ambush.
The attack shocked France and sparked fierce debate about the country’s presence in Afghanistan. Despite calls to withdraw, French lawmakers have recently approved an extension of the country’s involvement in the Afghan conflict.
Despite the fact that 50 percent of the French people oppose the deployment of thousands of troops to Afghanistan, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced at the last NATO summit in April that he would send an additional 700 French soldiers to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan, bringing the total to about 3,000.
Criticism of Sarkozy’s policies increased following the death of the 10 French soldiers. He has also faced severe criticism for being too close to US President George W. Bush’s administration.