Gates clarifies July deadline and Petraeus discloses data

Defense Secretary Robert Gatesis greeted by Gen. David Petraeus, Commander of ISAF, as he arrives in Kabul, September 2, 2010.

From Adam Ellick and Sangar Rahimi, the New York Times: [U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert] Gates took the opportunity to repeat assurances that President Obama’s deadline to begin withdrawing troops was flexible.

“Americans will still be here after July 2011, the president has been very clear, the pace will be determined by conditions on the ground,” he said.

In his remarks earlier, General [David] Petraeus also said that insurgents were still fighting hard for the farming area of Marja, the site of a major American military operation in February, which is not yet under control. General Petraeus said, however, that shops and a school had reopened, the district center had been rebuilt and a voter registration drive occurred there last week.

In Kandahar, he said, American forces continue to kill insurgents in the surrounding districts but he said the operation would take more time. He offered these statistics: In June, July and August, United States and NATO forces killed or captured 235 insurgent leaders, killed 1,066 rank-and-file insurgents and captured an additional 1,673 rank-and-file insurgents.  (photo: Reuters)

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