Australia sends 150 elite troops to Afghanistan
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According to BNA, Australia will send 150 elite troops to Afghanistan by September to fight a growing tide of insurgent led violence spearheaded by al Qaida and remnants of the Taliban, the prime minister said Wednesday.
The troops would comprise Special Air Service Regiment soldiers, commandos and support personnel, Prime Minister John Howard said. The progress that's been made in the establishment of a legitimate government in Afghanistan has come under increasing attack and pressure from the Taliban in particular and some elements of al-Qaida, Howard told reporters. He added that his country received at a military level requests from both the United States and others and also the government of Afghanistan saying that he has therefore decided to dispatch a special forces task group, The troops would be in place by September and remain for a year, he said. The Australian defense department would also consider sending up to 200 troops to Afghanistan as part of a reconstruction team early next year, he said.