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Italian FM favors ending U.S. military mission in Afghanistan

ROME, July 25 (RIA Novosti) - Italy's foreign minister said Wednesday the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan should be ended because of the unacceptably high number of civilian casualties.

There are some 2,000 Italian soldiers in Afghanistan deployed between Kabul and the western city of Herat. They have been part of the 37,000-strong NATO-led force in the country since 2002.

"The military mission led by the U.S. in Afghanistan should be terminated. Losses among civilians caused by the latest military operations cannot be justified," Massimo D'Alema said in parliament.

The minister said the U.S., while conducting Operation Enduring Freedom, often poorly coordinates its actions with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which places civilians in harm's way.

Unlike ISAF, Enduring Freedom is not connected with NATO. Being a military mission led by the U.S., it is aimed at fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

ISAF, which also comprises Italian forces, should act in regions that Enduring Freedom has freed from extremist militants, but often the ISAF contingent finds itself in Afghan regions where clashes are frequent.

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