Page last updated at 15:42 GMT, Friday, 14 March 2008

Afghan conflict support 'rises'

Troops in Afghanistan
Most respondents opposed UK troops being in Afghanistan

Public support for UK military operations in Afghanistan has increased slightly since 2006, a survey suggests.

Some 40% questioned in a poll expressed their support, up from 31% in a poll in September 2006. Some 48% opposed UK involvement - down from 53%.

ICM Research surveyed 1,002 adults by phone on 12 and 13 March for the BBC.

Nick Sparrow, of ICM, said rising support was a "surprising movement", but said Prince Harry's deployment to Afghanistan may have boosted support.

He said footage of Prince Harry on the front line in Afghanistan had "brought the war to life".

"That was difficult for the Army to do on its own," he said.

However, he added he could not be absolutely sure about the reasons for rising support.

The survey, conducted for BBC Radio 4's World At One, pointed to increasing support among respondents aged 18 to 34, whereas the views of those aged 65 and above were relatively unchanged.

Reasons for conflict

Respondents were also asked to choose, from a range of options, what they considered to be the main reasons for British troops being in Afghanistan.

Some 63% thought it was to help the Afghans fight the Taleban and 71% saw UK operations as part of the international fight against al-Qaeda.

Some 44% of those surveyed believed troops were sent to the country to stop the flow of drugs.

Joanna Nathan, a Kabul-based analyst for the International Crisis Group think tank, said she believed most Afghans had a positive outlook towards the continued military presence.

She told the BBC people: "The vast majority of Afghans are far more fearful of what would happen if foreign troops left than if they stay."

Those questioned were selected at random from around the country.


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