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June deadliest month for troops in Afghanistan in 9 months

KABUL -- In a dark reminder that the fighting in Afghanistan is still raging, despite the multinational military coalition’s pronouncements that the war is winding down, June has become the deadliest month for international troops in the country in nearly a year.

Already in June, at least 27 foreign troops have died, including 17 Americans, the most deaths in a month since September 2012, according to iCasualties.org, a website that tracks troop deaths. Twenty-five of the deaths were termed “hostile,” or battle-related.

A large part of the higher casualty rate in June is likely due to violence traditionally rising in the warmer months, as insurgents stream back into Afghanistan from their winter redoubts in Pakistan.

Afghan troops have been dying at a much higher rate as they have taken on more responsibility for day-to-day security while facing a still-entrenched insurgency. Almost as many Afghan troops were killed in 2012 alone than the number of U.S. troops killed in the entire nearly 12-year war.

Overall casualties for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force have been falling since the height of the military surge in 2010. Already this year, though, 95 foreign troops have died, with much of the summer -- traditionally the deadliest time of year for troops -- still ahead.

Though the U.S. and Afghan governments have made faltering steps toward peace talks with the Taliban, who recently opened a political office in the Gulf state of Qatar, no one has called a ceasefire and the insurgency has shown no sign of scaling back on attacks. In the past three weeks, several high-profile attacks rocked Kabul, perhaps a sign by the Taliban trying to show strength ahead of talks.

International troops have scaled back patrols in recent months as their Afghan counterparts take the lead, but they still must travel by road, where they are vulnerable to bomb attacks; still the biggest killer of servicemembers in Afghanistan.

So far there have been at least 3,345 international troops killed in connection with Operation Enduring Freedom, as the nearly 12-year-old war in Afghanistan is known, 2,245 of them Americans, according to iCasualties.org.

A spokesman for the international military coalition in Afghanistan declined to comment for this report.

druzin.heath@stripes.com
Twitter: @Druzin_Stripes

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