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Afghanistan, February 2011

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Earlier this month, the U.S. military began a withdrawal from the Pech Valley in eastern Afghanistan, a narrow canyon where U.S. forces have been battling insurgents for the past 8 years. American officials say the reason for the withdrawal is to be able to refocus its efforts on providing security to the Afghan capital, Kabul. More than 100 American soldiers have died in the Pech Valley since 2003. Across Afghanistan, 34 NATO personnel were killed this month, bringing the total to 60 deaths so far this year. Civilian casualties have been much higher than usual recently, as both insurgent attacks and NATO raids have reportedly killed scores of Afghan citizens across the country. As NATO forces prepare for warmer weather and anticipate more fighting, President Hamid Karzai now claims to be in talks with the United States about the possible establishment of permanent U.S. military bases in his country. Collected here are images of Afghanistan and the continued conflict there during the month of February. [38 photos]

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A member of the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) assigned to Forward Operating Base Sweeney, Zabul Province, Afghanistan, provides security while supplies are loaded after and air drop from a C-130 Hercules on February 7th, 2010. Winds during the drop gusted up to 20mph. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)
A member of the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) assigned to Forward Operating Base Sweeney, Zabul Province, Afghanistan, provides security while supplies are loaded after and air drop from a C-130 Hercules on February 7th, 2010. Winds during the drop gusted up to 20mph. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)
Mine clearing line charge explodes during a route clearing procedure on route dodge, Paktika province, Afghanistan, Feb. 10. The route clearing procedure was to deploy a mine clearing line charge to destroy possible improvised explosive device. (U.S. Army/Spc. Zachary Burke) #
Zabul Province Deputy Chief of Police Jalani Khan salutes graduates during an Afghan National Police graduation at the Qalat Academy, Afghanistan, Feb. 19. More than 250 officers graduated from training and will return to their respective communities to serve. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson) #
An Afghan National Army (Non-Commissioned Officer) recruit marches during a graduation parade after an oath ceremony at Ghazi military training center in Kabul February 3, 2011. (REUTERS/Ahmad Masood) #
An Afghan woman waits to receive alms in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011. Despite billions of dollars donated by the foreign countries, Afghanistan remains on the poorest countries in the world, 10 years after the collapse of the Taliban regime. (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq) #
Pakistani firefighters try to extinguish fire erupted from the wreckage of NATO oil tankers following a timed device blast at a terminal on the outskirts of Peshawar on February 26, 2011. Four NATO tankers gutted by a series of blasts on February 25 caught fire again when an unexploded timed device went off, wounding two people in northwestern Pakistan, police said. More than two dozen militants had struck a terminal on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Peshawar on February 25 and planted devices on 12 out of 18 parked tankers carrying fuel for NATO troops in neighboring Afghanistan. (A. MAJEED/AFP/Getty Images) #
Pakistani police officials and firefighters gather beside flames which erupted from the wreckage of NATO oil tankers originally bound for NATO forces in Afghanistan following a blast at a terminal on the outskirts of Peshawar on February 26, 2011. (A. MAJEED/AFP/Getty Images) #
U.S. Marines from the First Battalion Eighth Marines Alpha Company patrol through the town of Kunjak in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province, February 21, 2011. (REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly) #
An Afghan man stands near his old Russian-made car in an upper middle class neighborhood of Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Feb, 25, 2011. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin) #
An Afghan woman walks with her daughter by a flooded area in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Ahmad Nazar) #
Lightning flashes over northern Helmand province, Afghanistan, Feb. 3, 2011. (U.S. Marine Corps/Staff Sgt. Brian A. Lautenslager) #
A Chinook helicopter lands to pick up U.S. soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division following a night raid in Yahya Khel, Paktika province February 21, 2011. (REUTERS/Matt Robinson) #
Young Afghan boys react to the camera after attending their daily Quranic lessons outside a local mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Feb. 21, 2011. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin) #
Young Afghan women practice martial arts at a Taekwondo club in Enjil district in Herat, west of Kabul, Afghanistan on Monday, Feb. 7, 2011. (AP Photo/Reza Shirmohammadi) #
U.S. Marines with 1st Marine Division, 1st Tank Battalion, Delta Company, navigates the terrain of Helmand province, Afghanistan in an M1A1 Abrams Tank while on a convoy escorted by 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward) (1st MLG (FWD)), Combat Logistics Battalion 8 (CLB-8) on February 1, 2011. (U.S. Marine Corps/Staff Sgt. Brian A. Lautenslager) #
Private First Class Benjamin Brickman, from Albany, New York, of the First Battalion Eighth Marines, Alpha Company, is reflected in a cracked and discarded vehicle wing mirror as he practices on a guitar at an outpost in Kunjak, southern Afghanistan's Helmand province on February 16, 2011. (REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly) #
An Afghan boy kicks a soccer ball as he plays on a snow-covered field in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin) #
A US Marine inspects an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) at Vehicle Squadron 2, Camp Dwyer in Gamser, Helmand Province on February 15, 2011. (ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images) #
Smoke rises from the area where three Taliban suicide bombers burst into a branch of Kabul Bank and detonated their devices on February 19, 2011 in Jalalabad. (Pajhwok Afghan News/AFP/Getty Images) #
A captured suspected suicide attacker involved in an earlier attack on a bank is presented to the media by Afghan police in Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Feb, 20, 2011. The Afghan government says the death toll in Saturday's attack by gunmen wearing explosives vests on a bank in the eastern city of Jalalabad has risen to 38. (AP Photo) #
Pigeons fly in front of the Shah-Do-Shamshira Mosque in Kabul on February 16, 2011, on the occasion of Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi, the birthday of Prophet Muhammad. (DMITRY KOSTYUKOV/AFP/Getty Images) #
An Afghan boy from a poor neighborhood looks out from a glass window of his house as it rains in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Feb, 23, 2011. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin) #
US Marines from 1st Battalion, 8th Marines fire at alleged Taliban fighters as their dog Miely runs around outside new Mirage base, on the south of Musa Qala District, Helmand province on February 4, 2011. (DMITRY KOSTYUKOV/AFP/Getty Images) #
A nighttime view of a neighborhood in Kabul, Afghanistan on Sunday, Feb, 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin) #
People carry a dead man away from a bloody scene after a suicide attack in Emam Saheb district of Kunduz province on February 21, 2011. A suicide bomber killed at least 30 people in a government office in northern Afghanistan on Monday, officials said, with violence spiraling across the country even before an expected spring offensive. (REUTERS/Wahdat) #
U.S. medic Robert Amrani with the U.S. Army's Task Force Mustang "Dust Off" Company based out of Fort Hood, Texas, wears a mask around his helmet bearing the words, "When I have your wounded", during a mission in his Blackhawk medevac helicopter in Kunduz, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Feb. 21, 2011. The sentence refers to the final words of Charles Kelly, a U.S. Army helicopter pilot killed in action during the Vietnam war. Kelly was considered the founder of dustoff, and was known for his willingness to fly into danger to rescue wounded. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus) #
An Afghan dog owner waits to take part in a dog fight in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Feb. 18, 2011. Dog fighting is a popular pastime amongst Afghans during the winter season and the public matches are held every Friday, which is the official weekly holiday in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin) #
Afghan men watch a ram-fighting game on the outskirts of northern Kabul on February 18, 2011. (MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images) #
This combination picture shows a US Marine from 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, Bravo company shooting a missile from a Mirage patrol base, Musa Qala District, in Afghanistan's Helmand province on February 8, 2011. (DMITRY KOSTYUKOV/AFP/Getty Images) #
Mourners observe a repatriation ceremony as the hearse carrying Private Martin Bell is driven through the town of Wootton Bassett in southwest England February 3, 2011. Bell, the 350th British soldier killed while serving in Afghanistan, died while on patrol in Afghanistan on January 25. (REUTERS/Toby Melville) #
U.S. Marines from the First Battalion Eighth Marines Alpha Company patrol near the town of Nabuk in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province on February 24, 2011. (REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly) #
An Afghan National Police serviceman holds a glass of tea at Mirage patrol base, Musa Qala District, Helmand province on February 7, 2011. (DMITRY KOSTYUKOV/AFP/Getty Images) #
An Afghan child rides a camel in Gamser, Helmand province, on February 20, 2011. (ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images) #
U.S. Marines from the First Battalion Eighth Marines Alpha Company, in the last weeks of their seven-month deployment, wear worn and soiled uniforms in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province, February 27, 2011. Most of the Marines stationed at remote outposts have not showered for months and rarely have the chance to change uniforms. (REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly) #
An Afghan drug addict looks up as he attends a class on information on HIV/AIDS and use of drugs by a Medicins Du Monde clinic in Kabul, Afghanistan on February 8, 2011. Studies suggest Afghanistan currently has a "concentrated HIV/AIDS epidemic" within a growing population of injecting drug users. (REUTERS/Ahmad Masood) #
A wounded Afghan child receives treatment at a hospital in Kunar province on February 21, 2011. President Hamid Karzai accused NATO troops of killing more than 50 civilians during days of operations in a troubled province of eastern Afghanistan. (STR/AFP/Getty Images) #
Australian defense engineers carry the casket of their friend and colleague Cpl. Richard Atkinson, at Multinational Base Tarin Kot in Uruzgan, Afghanistan on Feb. 5, 2011. Atkinson was killed by an Improvised Explosive Device, Feb. 2, 2011, during a partnered Afghan National Army patrol in the Tangi Valley. (AP Photo/ISAF Regional Command (South) via Australian DOD/Cpl. Christopher Dickson) #
U.S. Marines from the First Battalion Eighth Marines Alpha Company return to their base at the end of a patrol near the town of Kunjak in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province February 23, 2011. (REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly) #
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