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U.S. death toll in Afghanistan reaches monthly high

KABUL — An American service member died Friday when his vehicle struck a bomb in eastern Afghanistan, making August the deadliest month for U.S. forces in the nearly eight-year war.

A brief statement by the NATO command gave few details of the blast and did not say precisely where it occurred. A U.S. military spokeswoman, Capt. Elizabeth Mathias, said the service member who died was American.

That brought to 45 the number of U.S. service members killed this month in the Afghan war — one more than the previous monthly record, set in July.

American casualties have been rising steadily since President Barack Obama's decision to send 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan to combat a resurgent Taliban and train Afghan security forces to assume a greater role in battling the insurgents.

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, is expected soon to submit his assessment of the conflict — a report likely to trigger intense debate on the Obama administration's strategy in an increasingly unpopular war.

McChrystal, who commanded special operations troops in Iraq, is expected to give a bleak assessment of the war, pointing to deficiencies in the Afghan government and recommending vastly expanding the size of the country's own security forces.

A record 62,000 U.S. troops are now in the country, with 4,000 more due before year's end. That compares with about 130,000 in Iraq, most due to leave next year.

The war was launched by the Bush administration after the Taliban government refused to hand over Osama bin Laden for his role in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in the United States.

More fraud claims

The U.N.-backed Electoral Complaints Commission said Friday that the number of major fraud complaints in the Aug. 20 Afghan presidential election that could "materially affect" the outcome had risen to 270. On Wednesday, the commission said it had received 150 major complaints, which could delay an announcement of the final results.

U.S. death toll in Afghanistan reaches monthly high 08/28/09 [Last modified: Friday, August 28, 2009 10:40pm]
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