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Parliament to vote on Afghanistan

New constitutional powers prompt debate on French mission after deaths of ten soldiers.

French lawmakers are debating whether to keep French troops in Afghanistan after the deaths of ten soldiers.
While both houses are controlled by the UMP party and likely to support the mission, the opposition will seize the opportunity to criticise the conditions for the soldiers.
Over the weekend Canada's Globe and Mail quoted a "secret" NATO document which reported that Taliban fighters who ambushed and killed ten French soldiers on August 18 were better armed.
While NATO and the French general staff have denied that such a “secret” report existed a correspondent for news agency France 24 has also claimed to have seen it.
Prime Minister Francois Fillon was to address parliament to make the case for continued engagement and defend the decision earlier this year to send 700 extra troops to Afghanistan.
Fillon was to outline additional security measures for the French troops, drawing lessons from the ambush.
A poll published after the attack showed 55 percent of the French supported a pull-out from Afghanistan.
A few thousand people took part in about a dozen anti-war protests across France on Saturday, organised by trade unions and left-wing opposition parties.
The mountain ambush east of Kabul was the deadliest ground attack on international troops since they were sent to Afghanistan in 2001 to oust the Taliban regime.
According to the Globe and Mail the report said the 30 French paratroopers ran out of bullets and did not have proper communication equipment, forcing them to stop fighting after 90 minutes.
The soldiers had only one radio, which was quickly knocked out, leaving them unable to call for air support while Taliban fighters used incendiary bullets that punched holes in armored vehicles, according to the report.
But a French military spokesman denied the account, saying there was no shortage of bullets and that radio contact was only momentarily lost after a soldier carrying equipment was killed.
"We were always able to respond to Taliban fire. Supplies were flown in by helicopter during the fighting that lasted nine hours," said armed forces chief of staff spokesman Captain Christophe Prazuck.

Photo:Marai Shah

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