August has been the deadliest month for U.S. forces in Afghanistan since the conflict began nearly 10 years ago.
Sixty-six American troops have died this month, topping July 2010 when 65 troops died, according to a CNN tally.
Almost half the August troop deaths took place on August 6 when insurgents shot down their helicopter in the eastern central province of Wardak. The Taliban claimed militants downed the helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade.
Thirty U.S. service members - including 17 Navy SEALs - were killed in that attack, the single largest loss of life for U.S. troops since the Afghan war began in late 2001.
In contrast, 36 U.S. service members were killed in all of July. Prior to the August attack, the most U.S. troops killed in a single month this year was 47 in June.
A "surge" of 33,000 additional troops in 2009 - in response to increased insurgent attacks - led to an uptick in U.S. deaths over previous years, with 499 killed in 2010. Prior to the surge, the most U.S. troops killed in a single year was 155 in 2008, according to CNN figures.
The surge in U.S. deaths comes as NATO is drawing down and handing over security control to national forces. Some 10,000 U.S. troops are scheduled to depart by year's end, with all U.S. military personnel out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
iReporter Naeem Muhsiny recently submitted these pictures he took of Afghan women in traditional Muslim garb outside the "Blue Mosque" in northern Afghanistan.
Muhsiny told iReport that he feels these photos represent the struggle between religious tradition and the modern world faced by many Afghans. "Religion controls every aspect of one's life under the banner of God and secularism frees one from fear and greed, the very theory found in all four major religions," he said.
"Religion divides people under different names and affiliations and secularism breaks those walls by recognizing one value and that is humanity."
Muhsiny was stationed in Afghanistan from January 2010 through August 2011 as the country manager for Afghanistan at the American Councils for International Education, an organization that provides educational programs for Afghan youth.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has ordered the release of a group of would-be child suicide attackers ranging between ages 8 and 17.
Some of the 20 youngsters told Karzai that they were recruited by the Taliban, strapped with vests and ordered to detonate them near foreigners, the president's office said in a statement. FULL POST
Explosions and heavy automatic gunfire were heard hours after five well-armed suicide bombers attacked the British Council in Kabul on Friday, leaving at least eight people dead, officials said.
Two iReporters were in Kabul and captured the seconds after the explosions and what it was like in the hours that followed:
"It was 5:40 when a very strong explosion shook my house and woke me up," said iReporter Nazir Ekhlass. "The first thing that came to my mind was 'may[be] it's a rocket that hit very close to my house.'"
Ekhlass, 23, went up to his roof to immediately take the photos above. "The Taliban claimed credit for the attack," he said. "and the reason they say was 'we have defeated Britain in 1919, this attack is to refresh the defeat.'"
For iReporter Joseph Andrew Grosso, 30, the blasts hit close to home. He lives about two blocks away from the British Council. "I woke up with the first blast ringing in my ears and our whole house shaking," he wrote in his iReport.
"[I ran] to the rooftop with my friends and my camera, tousled headed but instantly awake," the New York native said. "We watched the rest of the attack all day."
CNN's Backstory talks with the filmmakers of "Unnoticed: Children of Kabul" – a film about child labor in Afghanistan.
The story of a 10-year-old who posted an iReport honoring his dad who died in the recent Chinook helicopter crash in Afghanistan has sparked a huge outpouring from CNN.com readers.
It was Braydon Nichols' desire, his mother, Jessica Nichols, told CNN that his dad not just be another faceless casualty in the nearly decade-long war. The boy wanted the world to see his father's face, just as news reports showed the faces of other soldiers who lost their lives in the crash. So on his iReport, Braydon posted a picture of Army Chief Warrant Officer Bryan Nichols, a pilot, in his jump uniform sitting next to other soldiers.
"Braydon wanted people to know that Bryan was a daddy and a good daddy," his mother told CNN.FULL STORY
Editor's note: Rebekah Sanderlin is an Army wife, a mother of two and a freelance writer who lives near Fort Bragg, North Carolina. She writes the "Operation Marriage" blog about military family life.
I was barely through my first cup of coffee Saturday morning when my husband called. He's not deployed now, but had to spend Friday night training at Fort Bragg. He'd heard rumors about the helicopter crash in Afghanistan but didn't know any details. I quickly jumped on CNN.com and found the headline "Dozens of Americans dead," and my heart fell like an anchor.
Once together, my husband and I immediately began a roll call, anxiously suggesting names to each other of everyone we know who is deployed in Afghanistan, wondering if any of our friends might be dead.FULL STORY
More than two dozen American troops are believed to have died in a deadly Chinook helicopter crash in eastern Afghanistan overnight, a U.S. military official told CNN on Saturday.
Among those killed were a mix of special forces from different services, the official said. If the numbers are confirmed, the incident would be the most deadly for coalition forces in the Afghan war, according to a CNN count of international troop deaths.FULL STORY
Islamabad, Pakistan - Top diplomats from the U.S., Pakistan and Afghanistan claim to be gaining ground with plans to reach a peace deal with the Afghan Taliban, but revealed little about their progress.
The trio of diplomats met here in the federal capital on Tuesday for the fourth meeting of the so-called Corp Group, established to map out a political settlement between Kabul and the Afghan Taliban, a strategy Washington now supports.
However, Afghanistan's deputy foreign minister said Kabul has yet to establish contact with key leaders of the Taliban. FULL POST