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A Memorial Day Look at Afghanistan: May 2011

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Today is Memorial Day in the United States, a day set aside to remember and honor those who have died in military service. It's now been almost a decade since the start of the current war in Afghanistan, during which nearly 1,600 U.S. service members and nearly 1,000 other coalition troops have given their lives -- more than 50 in the past month alone. Tens of thousands of insurgents and civilians have also died in the struggle for control over this vast, complex, and war-weary nation. The Obama administration meanwhile appears to remain committed to begin drawing down U.S. troops in July, aiming for a full withdrawal by 2014. Gathered here are images from the conflict over the past month. This post is part of an ongoing monthly series on Afghanistan. [38 photos]

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A member of a U.S. Marine honor guard folds a flag at the burial service for Marine Lance Cpl. Joe Jackson, Wednesday, May 4, 2011, in Yakima, Washington. Jackson, 22, of White Swan, Washington, died on April 24 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
A member of a U.S. Marine honor guard folds a flag at the burial service for Marine Lance Cpl. Joe Jackson, Wednesday, May 4, 2011, in Yakima, Washington. Jackson, 22, of White Swan, Washington, died on April 24 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
A Blackhawk helicopter attached to Task Force Lift "Dust Off", Charlie Company 1-214 Aviation Regiment flies over Kandahar Province in volatile southern Afghanistan, Wednesday, May 4, 2011. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer) #
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. James Weber assists Staff Sgt. Amber Goedde in donning a bomb suit, during an operations check to maintain proper functionality of the suit at Forward Operating Base Azizullah, Afghanistan, May 6, 2011. Weber is an explosive ordnance disposal technician deployed from the 11th Civil Engineer Squadron, Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, and Goedde is an EOD technician deployed from the 23rd Civil Engineer Squadron, Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. (Staff Sgt. Stephen Schester/U.S. Army) #
Mountains are seen overlooking Qargha lake on the outskirts of Kabul on May 22, 2011. (Punit Paranjpe/AFP/Getty Images) #
US Marine Corporal Merlin Schuster from Combat Operation Patrol (COP) Bandini of 2nd Batallion 8 Marine (2/8) Weapons Company 81's Platoon opens fire during an insurgent attack on their base in Sistani, Helmand Province, on May 12, 2011. (Bay Ismoyo/AFP/Getty Images) #
An Afghan man photographs the wreckage of a motorcycle used by a suicide attacker in Qarghayi, Laghman province east of Kabul, Afghanistan Monday, May 9, 2011. A suicide bomber on a motorcycle blew himself up in front of a compound belonging to Saleh Mohammad Niazi, the chief of the Qarghayi district. Niazi said people were killed in the blast and others wounded -- including two police officers. The bomber was targeting a NATO convoy. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) #
An Afghan man rides a bicycle past the ruins of Darul Aman palace, the former house of Afghan King Amanullah (1920-1929), in Kabul on May 7, 2011. (Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images) #
U.S. Marines Corps MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft land in Zaranj, Afghanistan, to pick up British Army Brig. Nicholas Welch, the deputy commander of Regional Command Southwest, May 10, 2011. Welch traveled from Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, with British and American service members to perform a district deep-dive, a forum to explain in-depth information in each district the U.S. Marines represent, and collaborate with Afghan National leaders to discuss progress and problems in the Nimroz province. (U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Mallory S. VanderSchans) #
U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Wahl, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 264, airframe mechanic, participates in performing a foreign object debris (FOD) walk, at Camp Bastion, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, on May 23, 2011. (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Robert R. Carrasco) #
An Afghan man catches pigeons on a rooftop in the old city of Kabul on May 6, 2011. (Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images) #
From left, Haz Mohammad, Samim, and Osman pose for portraits as the boys attend a Quran study session at the Islami Noor religious school, on May 12, 2011 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Despite recent multiple attacks near the city's downtown, children continue their studies at the school. (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images) #
An Afghan police officer secures a transportation headquarters that was besieged for two days last weekend, on May 14, 2011, in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Taliban gunmen and suicide bombers unleashed a major assault May 7, 2011 on locations in Kandahar that included the governor's compound, the mayor's office, police stations, and an intelligence agency headquarters. (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images) #
A member of the Afghan Customs Police and his U.S. mentor display a target used in marksmanship training at Forward Operating Base Walton, in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, May 20, 2011. (U.S. Army photo/Spc. Jacob Warren) #
Afghan soldiers use ropes to lower the bodies of Taliban fighters who were killed during an assault, from the rooftop of the Traffic Department building to the ground in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on Monday, May 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Allauddin Khan) #
Afghan poppy farmer, Zareen (left) stands in his poppy field with son Azim, 8, in Faizabad, Badakshan, Afghanistan, on May 25, 2011. Local authorities in Badakshan use a tractor to destroy cabbage size poppy plants at their early stages as to lessen the burden on the farmer. According to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) the cultivation of poppies in the Badakshan region has more than doubled this season. Opium production in Afghanistan has been on the rise since U.S. occupation started in 2001, and more land is now used for opium in Afghanistan than for coca cultivation in Latin America. In 2007, 92% of the opiates on the world market originated in Afghanistan, reportedly amounting to an export value of about $4 billion, with a quarter being earned by opium farmers and the rest going to district officials, insurgents, warlords, and drug traffickers. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images) #
Lydia Soren, mother of Marine Lance Cpl. Joe Jackson, cries as she holds one of the flags that draped Jackson's casket, on Wednesday, May 4, 2011, at Jackson's burial service in Yakima, Washington. Jackson, 22, of White Swan, Washington, died on April 24, while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) #
U.S. Army Sgt. Misha Pemble-Belkin, an infantry team leader with Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, stands under a camouflage net at Observation Post Coleman outside Combat Outpost Monti, in Kunar province, Afghanistan, May 5, 2011. Pemble-Belkin, who is on his second combat tour, was featured in the 2010 documentary film Restrepo. (Sgt. 1st Class Mark Burrell/U.S. Army) #
Major Jason Kettwig of Milbank, South Dakota, holds his son Ty, 4 and daughter, Jocelyn, 2, at a homecoming ceremony for the South Dakota Army National Guard's 196th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade at the Augustana College Elmen center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Tuesday, on May 3, 2011. The group of approximately 200 soldiers has been serving in Afghanistan for the past year. (AP Photo/Argus Leader, Elisha Page) #
A United States Marine Cobra attack helicopter fires diversionary flares as it flies near Forward Operating Base Edi in Helmand Province of southern Afghanistan, on Sunday, May 8, 2011. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer) #
Afghans gather around the lifeless body of a bomb victim, who was killed in a suicide attack in Alingar, Laghman province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, on Monday, May 23, 2011. A suicide bomber attacked a gathering of tribal leaders, killing four tribal elders and wounding 14 others who were having lunch at a hotel, governor's spokesman Faizanullah Patan said. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) #
View from an overwatch position in a Maiwand District, Afghanistan, compound during an air assault mission. (Sgt. Dillon Townsel/U.S. Army) #
U.S. Army flight medic Sgt. Jaime Adame rushes into the dust out of a medevac helicopter from the U.S. Army's Task Force Lift "Dust Off", Charlie Company 1-214 Aviation Regiment looking for wounded Marines at a landing zone that was under insurgent attack north of Sangin, southern Afghanistan, on Sunday, May 15, 2011. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer) #
United States Marine LCPL Jerome Hanley of Massachusetts, who was wounded in an insurgent attack, is loaded on a medevac helicopter from the US Army's Task Force Lift "Dust Off", Charlie Company 1-214 Aviation Regiment at a "hot" landing zone that was under fire north of Sangin, southern Afghanistan, on Sunday, May 15, 2011. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer) #
An Afghan border policeman fires at Taliban fighters, hidden in the Traffic Department building with smoke rising from its rooftop in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on Sunday, May 8, 2011. The Taliban unleashed a major assault Saturday on government buildings throughout Afghanistan's main southern city, an attack that cast doubt on how successful the U.S.-led coalition has been in its nearly yearlong military campaign to establish security and stability in the former Taliban stronghold. (AP Photo/Allauddin Khan) #
U.S. soldiers hold candles to mark Memorial Day at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan on Sunday, May 29, 2011. (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq) #
Kiki Harris of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, visits the grave of her twin brother, Navy Seal Joshua Thomas Harris, who died serving in Afghanistan in 2008, as American flags on each headstone at Arlington National Cemetery in preparation for Memorial Day, in Arlington, Virginia, on Thursday, May 26, 2011. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) #
Two special forces soldiers embrace as a C-130 carrying the body of Sergeant Brett Wood, departs Tarin Kot Airfield, Saturday, May 28, 2011, in Uruzgan, Afghanistan. The Australian commando was killed in action Monday during a partnered Special Operations Task Group and Afghan National Police mission. (AP Photo/Australian Navy/Able Seaman Jo Dilorenzo) #
A Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461 CH-53E Super Stallion transports a damaged Canadian Forces CH-47 Chinook during a tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel mission in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, on May 17, 2011. (Sgt. Thomas W. Dowd/U.S. Marine Corps) #
In a long-exposure photograph, trails are left by flying insects buzzing around a light in front of a satellite dish at Jalalabad Air Field in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, on May 3, 2011. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #
Afghan shepherd Asadullah Daad Mohammad, 12, sleeps on his bed at the International Committee of the Red Cross Orthopedic Center in Kabul, Afghanistan, on May 10, 2011. Asadullah lost his legs, left eye and a finger, most likely after he stepped on a land mine while he was out with his goats and sheep in a Paktya province south of Kabul about five months ago. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili) #
A detainee with blindfold and handcuffs, arrested after an early morning operation by US Marine from 3rd Battalion 9th Marines Kodiak Company, sits on the ground at Block 9 military camp of Marjah district in Helmand Province, on May 23, 2011. US Marines arrested 12 suspects during an operation on May 23 in Shinghazak area, south of Marjah district in southern Helmand province. (Massoud Hossaini/AFP/Getty Images) #
An A-10 Thunderbolt II, from the 75th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, returns to mission after being refueled in the skies of Afghanistan supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, on May 12, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. William Greer) #
Young Afghan girls hide behind a wall in the old city of Kabul on May 6, 2011. (Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images) #
Marine Lance Cpl. Brandon Long, who was injured while serving in Afghanistan, mourns at Arlington National Cemetery as American flags are placed in front of each headstone in preparation for Memorial Day, in Arlington, Virginia, on Thursday, May 26, 2011. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) #
A US Marine stands in a tent as smoke and dust rise from a controlled explosion near the US military base Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan's Helmand Province, on May 29, 2011. (Massoud Hossaini/AFP/Getty Images) #
A man who was injured in a Taliban attack is treated in Mirvays Hospital in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on May 11, 2011. After the start of their annual spring offensive across the country, hundreds of Taliban militants have begun to try and overrun several security posts meeting heavy defense from Afghan security forces. (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images) #
An Afghani farmer suddenly raises his hands as he looks at US Marine Lance Corporal Michael Horne from Combat Operation Patrol (COP) Bandini of 2nd Marine 8 Battalion (2/8) Weapons Company 81's Platoon searches for insurgents in Sistani, Helmand Province, on May 7, 2011. (Bay Ismoyo/AFP/Getty Images) #
U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins presents David Brodeur Jr, 4, military commendations for his slain father, Maj. David Brodeur, at a graveside service at the Air Force Academy on May 17, 2011 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The 34-year-old U.S. fighter pilot was serving as a NATO trainer in Afghanistan when he and 8 other Americans were shot and killed by an Afghan Air Force cadet April 27 at the Kabul International Airport. (John Moore/Getty Images) #

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