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    August deadliest month yet in Afghan war

    KABUL (PAN): August has become the deadliest month yet for US troops in the nearly 10-year-old war in Afghanistan, when 82 soldiers, including 66 Americans, were killed, eclipsing the previous record of 65 Americans killed in July 2010.

    Nearly half the August deaths occurred when insurgents shot down a Chinook helicopter August 6, killing 30 American troops, mostly elite Navy SEALs.

    President Hamid Karzai has set the end of 2014 as the target date for Afghan police and soldiers to take the lead in protecting and defending the country, leaving international combat forces take on more support roles.

    In a speech yesterday, US President Barack Obama honoured all the troops who have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    "As our mission transitions from combat to support, Afghans will take responsibility for their own security and the longest war in American history will come to a responsible end," Obama said at the American Legion's national convention in Minneapolis. "For our troops and military families who have sacrificed so much, this means relief from an unrelenting decade of operations."

    Aside from the 30 Americans killed in the Chinook crash south-west of Kabul, 23 died this month in Kandahar and Helmand provinces in southern Afghanistan, the main focus of Afghan and US-led coalition forces. The remaining 13 were killed in eastern Afghanistan.

    PAN Monitor/ma