U.S.-led coalition forces may be on track to pull out of Afghanistan by 2014, but the Red Cross isn't so sure, given recent developments there. According to an AP report, Islamist militants have begun to “flood the battlefield” in a scenario reminiscent of post-U.S. Iraq and current Syria. This could throw a huge wrench into U.S. plans to hand over the security reins to the Afghans by the end of the spring.
"Spring and summer will be very difficult for civilians, especially in the months ahead. The civilian population is bearing the brunt of this conflict,” Gherardo Pontrandolfi, head of the Red Cross delegation in Kabul, told AP. Pontrandolfi also said the Red Cross has had to stop providing humanitarian aid in some northern provinces due to security concerns.
In particular, two Red Cross staff members were killed in attacks on Tuesday, the Red Cross said in a statement. “This is a tragedy, not only for the families of the deceased but for all those needing medical attention, because now units like these might find it even more difficult to work in certain parts of the country,” Pontrandolfi said in the statement.
April has been the deadliest month in Afghanistan so far this year, AP said: 186 people have been killed, and the Taliban have been redoubling their attacks to “try to position themselves for power ahead of national elections next year,” AP said, quoting anonymous “analysts.”
The Red Cross said it currently has 1,800 staff members in Afghanistan, making it the aid group's biggest operation.
Earlier in April, NATO announced that the Afghan Air Force “achieved a major milestone” when it completed its first “combined training exercise” using multiple aircraft and capabilities.