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In the year 2011, a total of 565 NATO forces stationed in Afghanistan were killed -- down from 711 in 2010 -- marking the largest decline in annual deaths during the decade-long conflict. The large number of NATO soldiers on the ground appears to have made a difference, a fact that worries Afghans as the U.S. and others accelerate their planned pullback. This year, 23,000 U.S. soldiers are scheduled to depart the country, heading toward a full withdrawal by 2014. For now, U.S. troops appear to be focusing on intensive training of Afghan forces and preparing for the logistical challenge of shipping home some $30 billion worth of military gear. Gathered here are images of the people and places involved in this conflict over the past month, as part of an ongoing monthly series on Afghanistan. [42 photos]

Cpl. James Hernandez, a combat engineer with Alpha Company, 9th Engineer Support Battalion, and a native of Goodyear, Arizona, uses an electric saw to dismantle a HESCO barrier at Firebase Saenz, in Helmand province, on December 13, 2011. FB Saenz is the first of several patrol bases being demilitarized by the Marines of 9th ESB throughout the month of December. (USMC/Cpl. Bryan Nygaard)

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In this post, featuring images from the last quarter of 2011, we remember a tumultuous year of change across the globe, the capture of Khadafi, the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the passing of Apple icon Steve Jobs, fire, famine, flood and protests. A memorable year, indeed. -- Paula Nelson -- Please see part 1 and part 2 from earlier. (EDITOR'S NOTE: We will not post a Big Picture on Monday, December 26, due to the Christmas Holiday ) (51 photos total)
A defaced portrait of fugitive Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi in Tripoli on Sept. 1, 2011 as the fallen strongman vowed again not to surrender in a message broadcast on the 42nd anniversary of the coup which brought him to power. (Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images)

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The best photos of 2011 from around the globe. Warning: All images in this entry are shown in full, not screened out for graphic content. Some images contain dead bodies, graphic content and tragic events. We consider these images an important part of human history.

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Behrouz Mehri / AFP - Getty Images

Seen through a haze of fine dust kicked up by the helicopter's rotor blades, US Marines carry a wounded comrade who was hit by an Improvised Explosive Device to a medevac helicopter of U.S. Army's Task Force Lift "Dust Off", Charlie Company 1-171 Aviation Regiment in Helmand province on Nov. 2, 2011. The Marine lost his right leg from the knee in the blast.

Natalia Jimenez writes

A subtle image, but the combination of the soft hazy dust and a lonely exposed sock of a wounded soldier being carried by fellow marines makes this image feel quite vulnerable to me.

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As the war in Afghanistan passes the 10-year mark, the security outlook still looks bleak. Nevertheless, the Obama administration has just asked the Pentagon for initial recommendations for the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan in 2014 -- the first step in planning the final U.S. withdrawal. According to the Associated Press, as of yesterday, November 1, 2011, at least 1,704 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan. U.S. diplomats are now asking Afghanistan's neighbors to sign on to an ambitious plan for the future of Central Asia -- ambitiously being called the "New Silk Road" -- that would link the infrastructure of surrounding countries from Kazakhstan to India. Gathered here are images from there over the past month, part of an ongoing monthly series on Afghanistan. [41 photos]

A severely wounded US Marine hit by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) is carried by his comrades to a medevac helicopter of U.S. Army's Task Force Lift "Dust Off", Charlie Company 1-171 Aviation Regiment to be airlifted in Helmand province, on October 31, 2011. The Marine was hit by an IED, lost both his legs and fights for his life. (Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images)

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The Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu is one of Nepal’s holiest sites. Until the country was transformed into a secular republic in 2008, the temple’s deity — an iteration of the Hindu god Shiva — served for nearly three hundred years as the patron spirit of this Himalayan kingdom. Generations of Nepalese monarchs derived legitimacy from its shrines and pilgrims from across South Asia continue to flock to its stone steps.

Those living in its environs include a clutch of elderly people, “orphaned” and destitute, the sort of folk that temples across the region gave shelter and sustenance to for centuries. But on his explorations by the outskirts of Pashupatinath in December 2010, photographer Dan Giannopoulos found many of these elderly living in dire conditions. His pictures — stark and grim — capture a desperate scene. He says, “I found a number of residents on different occasions had been left immobile and agitated on the floors of communal areas, sometimes in the bright sunlight, dehydrated, sometimes in their own excrement, often covered in flies.

The elderly orphanage is nominally run by the government, which speaks volumes for why it’s in such a miserable state. Nepal, an impoverished country of 40 million, suffers from some of the world’s most dysfunctional politics. An internationally-monitored peace process started in 2006 with the aim of reconciling the country after a decade-long civil war that saw some 13,000 deaths. The authority of the Nepali monarchy was dissolved and Maoist guerrillas who had once lurked in hills and jungles entered the political process as one of the country’s biggest democratic parties. But political sparring, infighting and inertia have crippled Nepal. Three years after it was elected, the country’s legislature has yet to even agree upon a Constitution for the new secular republic. Coalitions and ruling governments continue to splinter and fall—the latest Prime Minister resigned his post Aug. 13.

All the while, the country’s economy lurches in the doldrums, propped up by aid handouts from increasingly exasperated foreign donors. Power and fuel shortages routinely grip Kathmandu, bringing daily life to a halt. Nepal’s growth rate remains middling, while countless Nepalese are forced to abandon their country for jobs in the Gulf states, India, and further afield in Southeast Asia. In 2010, over a fifth of Nepal’s GDP came from remittances sent back home by hundreds of thousands toiling abroad.

In this context, the plight of these forsaken elderly seems almost an afterthought. But, says Giannopoulos: “At the very least, on the most basic humanitarian level, the international community needs to ask questions of the current healthcare funding situation in Nepal.” The photographer intends to do his part, and is seeking avenues for funds and partnerships with NGOs to improve the lot of these marooned elderly, so the twilight of their years can be lived out with more grace than their circumstances provide.

Dan Giannopoulos is a member of Aletheia Photo Collective, an independent cooperative of photojournalists covering underreported socioeconomic and humanitarian issues. He is currently working on a long term project that focuses on the differences in the treatment of society’s elderly with particular emphasis on geographical and social divides in diagnosis and understanding of the degeneration in the mental faculties of the elderly.

Ishaan Tharoor is a writer-reporter for TIME and editor of Global Spin. You can find him on Twitter at ishaantharoor. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIMEWorld.

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Each month in the Big Picture, we post a collection of photographs from Afghanistan.  They feature American forces and those of other countries, and they show us daily life among the Afghan people.  In June, President Obama declared that the United States had largely achieved its goals in Afghanistan, which set in motion an aggressive timetable for the withdrawal of American troops. However, the fighting has spiked in some regions of the country. On Aug. 6, the United States suffered its deadliest day in the nearly decade-long war when insurgents shot down a Chinook transport helicopter, killing 30 Americans and eight Afghans.  According to the United Nations, 360 Afghan civilians were killed in June alone.  The surges of violence reflect how deeply entrenched the insurgency remains even far from its strongholds. The war continues.  -- Paula Nelson (42 photos total)
Villager Juma Khan meets with the provincial district governor and fellow villagers at a shura, or consultation, on July 23 at the US Marine Patrol Base Salaam Bazaar in Helmand province, Afghanistan. As mentors with the international coalition attempt to phase out their involvement and put Afghan institutions in the lead, the Taliban continue to gain strength in many of Helmand's northern communities, where legitimate Afghan governance is more of a plan than a reality. (David Goldman/Associated Press)

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Paper lanterns float along the Motoyasu River in front of the illuminated Atomic Bomb Dome near Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, western Japan. The Japanese city of Hiroshima on Saturday marked the 66th anniversary of the bombing, as the nation fights a different kind of disaster from atomic technology – a nuclear plant in a meltdown crisis after being hit by a tsunami.

People loot a shop in Hackney, east London, Monday, Aug. 8, 2011. Violence and looting spread across some of London’s most impoverished neighborhoods on Monday, with youths setting fire to shops and vehicles, during a third day of rioting in the city that will host next summer’s Olympic Games.

The shrouded body of 12-month-old Liin Muhumed Surow lays before burial at UNHCR’s Ifo Extention camp outside Dadaab, Eastern Kenya, 60 miles from the Somali border.The drought and famine in the horn of Africa has killed more than 29,000 children under the age of 5 in the last 90 days in southern Somalia alone, according to U.S. estimates.

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Paper lanterns float along the Motoyasu River in front of the illuminated Atomic Bomb Dome near Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, western Japan, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011. The Japanese city of Hiroshima on Saturday marked the 66th anniversary of the bombing, as the nation fights a different kind of disaster from atomic technology - a nuclear plant in a meltdown crisis after being hit by a tsunami. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara) #

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An Indian Muslim girl wears a fancy dress as she waits for noon prayers to begin at the Jama Masjid, in New Delhi, India, Friday, Aug. 12, 2011. Muslims throughout the world are marking the holy month of Ramadan, where observants fast from dawn till dusk. (AP Photo/ Kevin Frayer) #

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Artists of the Havana Company warm up before participating at the Circuba festival's opening gala in Havana, Cuba, Monday, Aug. 8, 2011. More than 100 circus artists from fourteen countries are participating at the 2011 Circuba festival to be held in Havana Aug. 8 - 14. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes) #

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Giraffe mother "Jujis" (L) looks after her giraffe baby "Thabo" in their enclosure at the zoo of Hanover, northern Germany on August 12, 2011. The 1.90 metre tall and 80 kilogramme heavy Rothschild giraffe baby will be fed by his mother for th next15 months. The Rothschild giraffe is among the most endangered giraffe subspecies with only a few hundred members in the wild. AFP PHOTO / HOLGER HOLLEMANN #

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Captain Max Ferguson, company commander of the US troops from the Charlie Company, 2-87 Infantry, 3rd Brigade Combat Team play with Afghan children during a joint patrol with Afghan National Army soldiers at Kandalay village in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar on August 8, 2011 while US troops launched missile attacks on Taliban targets in nearby Kelawai village killing at least three and capturing two insurgents. US forces push their counterinsurgency efforts to battle for the hearts and minds of the local population. TOPSHOTS AFP PHOTO / ROMEO GACAD #

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A Perseid meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid meteor shower on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2009 in Vinton, Calif. (AP Photo/Kevin Clifford) #

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A youth sits on a window sill surrounded by flood waters in Tikiapara, some 25 kms west of Kolkata, on August 10, 2011. The strength of the annual June-September downpour is vital to hundreds of millions of farmers and to economic growth in Asia's third largest economy which gets 80 percent of its annual rainfall during the monsoon. AFP PHOTO/Dibyangshu #

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A Somali lady stands with several jerry cans of water, ready to be transported by camel in the town of Dhobley on August 11, 2011. Idman is suffering from malaria and severe malnutrition, but his parents have no money to buy him drugs. With no health facilities in the region, the family are hoping to cross to Kenya's Dadaab refugee complex, some 100km away. Hundreds fleeing drought and famine-hit areas elsewhere in southern Somalia stream daily into the small town of simple tin shacks and huts. Although Dhobley is just five kilometres (three miles) from the Kenyan border, the sprawling Dadaab refugee complex -- the largest in the world with more than 400,000 people -- is still a tough 100-kilometre walk ahead. AFP PHOTO/PHIL MOORE #

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TOPSHOTS Supporters of former presidential challenger and opposition leader Kizza Besigye try to run away from Ugandan authorities in the town of Masaka in Uganda on August 10, 2011. Besigye pledged to join in with the protests at a candle-lit vigil in the town of Masaka, around 140 kilometres (87 miles) southwest of Kampala. Army and police fired teargas at a crowd of opposition supporters following the service as they tried to make their way to lay a wreath at the house where the child was shot. MICHELE SIBILONI/AFP/Getty Images #

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Representatives of the 21st Annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in New York walk with a dragon head on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange before ringing the closing bell on August 11, 2011. US stocks made another dramatic comeback after a stunning fall on Thursday, in another day of extreme volatility in markets around the world. The Dow Jones Industrial Average battled back from Wednesday's 520-point loss with a 3.94 percent gain, adding 422.84 points to close at 11,142.78. The broader S&P 500 rebounded 4.63 percent, up 51.87 points to 1,172.63, while the Nasdaq gained 111.63 points, or 4.69 percent, to 2,492.68. STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images #

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A pregnant Somali woman sits by a tree trunk at UNHCR's Ifo Extension camp outside Dadaab, eastern Kenya, 100 kms (60 miles) from the Somali border, Tuesday Aug. 9, 2011. U.S. President Barack Obama has approved $105 million for humanitarian efforts in the Horn of Africa to combat worsening drought and famine. The drought and famine in the horn of Africa has killed more than 29,000 children under the age of 5 in the last 90 days in southern Somalia alone, according to U.S. estimates. The U.N. says 640,000 Somali children are acutely malnourished, suggesting the death toll of small children will rise. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) #

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A Somali boy sings an Irish song to his classmates during class at the Illeys primary school in Dagahaley refugee camp north of Dadaab, Eastern Kenya, 100 kms (60 miles) from the Somali border, Thursday Aug. 11, 2011. The United Nations warned Wednesday that the famine in East Africa hasn't peaked and hundreds of thousands of people face imminent starvation and death without a massive global response.About 1,300 new refugees arrive each day in Dadaab camps in northeastern Kenya. The new influx are running away from a famine that is getting worse in southern Somalia as an al-Qaida-linked militants in the country barred some major aid groups from operating in its areas of control, worsening the situation of the most vulnerable people. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) #

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People loot a shop in Hackney, east London, Monday, Aug. 8, 2011. Violence and looting spread across some of London's most impoverished neighborhoods on Monday, with youths setting fire to shops and vehicles, during a third day of rioting in the city that will host next summer's Olympic Games. (AP Photo/PA, Lewis Whyld) #

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A masked youth pulls a burning garbage bin set on fire by rioters in Hackney, east London, Monday, Aug. 8, 2011. Violence and looting spread across some of London's most impoverished neighborhoods on Monday, with youths setting fire to shops and vehicles, during a third day of rioting in the city that will host next summer's Olympic Games. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis) #

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The sun sets behind a mast of a fishing boat as kids walk at the port of Palouki about 300 kilometers (186 miles) west of Athens , Greece , on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris) #

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An Indian police officer hits news photographer Shekhar Ghosh, right, from the Hindi newspaper Dainik Bhaskar, during a protest against corruption by supporters of opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011. Police used bamboo batons and water canons to control thousands of angry supporters of India's main opposition party who were marching in New Delhi to protest against the government's hosting of last year's Commonwealth Games among other corruption charges. Auditors slammed India's preparations and conduct of the Commonwealth Games last year as deeply flawed, riddled with favoritism and vastly more expensive than planned in a final report that could result in criminal prosecutions. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer) #

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In this photo taken Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011, workers fix an electrical power transmission tower in near the Sports City under construction in Greater Noida, India. The Indian car racing fraternity is banking on the Budh International Circuit near New Delhi to kick off a mass following for motor sports with its maiden Formula 1 race this year. Even as workers slog overtime to get the venue in shape, officials are growing confident of the event on Oct. 30 changing the face of car racing in India, a country of 1.2 billion where cricket reigns and other sports take a backseat. (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan) #

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A Kashmiri woman removes lotus leaves from the water of Dal Lake in Srinagar, India, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011. Dal Lake is famous for its natural beauty and a popular destination for both Indian and foreign tourists. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan) #

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An Indian police officer looks from behind his rain covered shield during a monsoon rain shower as he and others stand guard at a protest by the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party in New Delhi, India, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2011. According to local news reports , India's monsoon rain index rose nearly 14 percent in the last week, an increase over the previous period where rain levels were down. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer) #

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Street beggars use a plastic sheet to take shelter from rain in Srinagar, India, Friday, Aug.12, 2011. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan) #

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Indian Muslim boys stand on a platform to offer prayers at a mosque in Allahabad, India, Friday, Aug. 12, 2011. Muslims throughout the world are marking the month of Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar where observants fast from dawn till dusk. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh) #

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Indian Muslim men smoke as they break the Ramadan fast near the Jama Masjid in New Delhi, India, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2011. Muslims around the world are marking the holy fasting month of Ramadan, where the observant fast from dawn until dusk. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer) #

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Ultra-Orthodox Jews attend a prayer as they gather in the religious neighborhood of Mea Shearim to protest against summer events organized by the city council, Jerusalem, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue) #

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Somali boys walk in the Dagahaley refugee camp north of Dadaab, Eastern Kenya, 100 kms (60 miles) from the Somali border, Thursday Aug. 11, 2011. The United Nations warned Wednesday that the famine in East Africa hasn't peaked and hundreds of thousands of people face imminent starvation and death without a massive global response. About 1,300 new refugees arrive each day in Dadaab camps in northeastern Kenya. The new influx are running away from a famine that is getting worse in southern Somalia as an al-Qaida-linked militants in the country barred some major aid groups from operating in its areas of control, worsening the situation of the most vulnerable people. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) #

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The shrouded body of 12-month-old Liin Muhumed Surow lays before burial at UNHCR's Ifo Extention camp outside Dadaab, Eastern Kenya, 100 km (60 miles) from the Somali border,Saturday Aug. 6, 2011. Liin died of malnutrition 25 days after reaching the camp, her father Mumumed said. The drought and famine in the horn of Africa has killed more than 29,000 children under the age of 5 in the last 90 days in southern Somalia alone, according to U.S. estimates. The U.N. says 640,000 Somali children are acutely malnourished, suggesting the death toll of small children will rise. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) #

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Muhumed Surow grieves following the burial of his 12-month-old daughter Liin Muhumed Surowlays at UNHCR's Ifo Extention camp outside Dadaab, Eastern Kenya, 100 km (60 miles) from the Somali border, Saturday Aug. 6, 2011. Liin died of malnutrition 25 days after reaching the camp, Mumumed said. The drought and famine in the horn of Africa has killed more than 29,000 children under the age of 5 in the last 90 days in southern Somalia alone, according to U.S. estimates. The U.N. says 640,000 Somali children are acutely malnourished, suggesting the death toll of small children will rise. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) #

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In this Monday, Aug. 8, 2011 photo, U.S. Army Pvt. 1st Class David Hedge from Bealeton, Va., front, and fellow soldiers from 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment are bathed in rotor wash moments after arriving by Blackhawk helicopter for an operation to disrupt weapons smuggling in Istaqlal, north of Baghdad, Iraq. A radical anti-American Shiite cleric is calling on U.S. troops in Iraq to leave the country and go back to their families or risk more attacks. The rare statement by Muqtada al-Sadr was translated into English and posted Tuesday on his website. In it, the powerful Iraqi cleric appeals directly to the roughly 46,000 U.S. troops still in the country. He says Iraq does not need their help.(AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo) #

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An Ultra-orthodox Jewish man sleeps as others pray during the mourning ritual of Tisha B'Av at the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalem's Old City, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011. The Jewish holy day of Tisha B'Av, when Jews mourn the destruction of the biblical temples, is marked Tuesday. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue) #

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A Palestinian baby sleeps in his carrycot while Palestinian women attempt to pass the checkpoint on their way to pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque on the second Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Aug. 12, 2011. Muslims around the world are observing the holy fasting month of Ramadan where they refrain from eating, drinking, smoking from dawn to dusk. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue) #

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In this photo taken on a government-organized tour a woman holds up an image of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi during a protest in front of the Hungarian embassy in Tripoli, Libya, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2011. Dozens of reported residents of the town of Majar, where the Libyan government claims that 85 civilians were killed in a NATO airstrike last Aug. 9, protested in front of the Hungarian embassy which is currently representing the U.S and the European Union interests in Libya, to demand a stop to the NATO airstrikes. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills) #

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This image released by the District Governor of Spitsbergen's office shows the dead male polar bear which had attacked youths who were camping on a remote Arctic glacier as part of a high-end adventure holiday at Spitsbergen, Svalbard archipelago, in Norway, Friday, Aug. 5, 2011 . The polar bear was shot and killed by other members of the group. The attack took place on the Svalbard archipelago, which is home to about 2,400 people and 3,000 polar bears and one British youth was killed in the attack. (AP Photo / Arild Lyssand / District governor of Spitsbergens office / via Scanpix) NORWAY OUT #

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Somalia Transitional Government soldiers prepare to take positions near Mogadishu, Somalia stadium Sunday Aug, 7, 2011, after a brief fight with Al Shabaab fighters. Islamist fighters withdrew Saturday from almost all their bases in the famine-struck Somali capital, the most significant gain for the embattled U.N.-backed government in four years. Commanders toured newly abandoned positions Saturday, including a former sports stadium where the militia's tire marks were fresh in the grass.(AP Photo/ Farah Abdi Warsameh). #

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A jockey races along the beach during the traditional beach race on the Sanlucar de Barrameda's beach in southern Spain, on Aug. 10, 2011. Sanlucar horse racing dates back to 1845 and is one of the oldest in Europe; it currently takes place near the mouth of the Rio Guadalquivir several times during the month of August. (AP Photo/Miguel Gomez) #

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Riot police block supporters of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko outside the Pecherskiy District Court in Kiev, Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 5, 2011. A court in the Ukrainian capital has arrested former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko for violations of procedure during her abuse-of-office trial. Tymoshenko, the country's top opposition leader, has criticized the trial as an attempt by President Viktor Yanukovych to bar her from elections. She has refused, as required, to stand up while addressing the judge, repeatedly insulted him and questioned his objectivity. Her supporters also have repeatedly disrupted hearings. (AP Photo/Sergey Svetlitsky) #

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In the month of July, 54 coalition soldiers were killed in Afghanistan, including 32 Americans. This was as the United States began drawing down its forces, with some 10,000 U.S. troops due to pull out by the end of the year. Currently, the U.S. has some 150,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan. This month also saw an escalation in recent assassinations claimed by the Taliban, as both the mayor of Kandahar and President Hamid Karzai's half-brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai, were killed. The assassinations and continued suicide attacks are heightening uncertainty in the face of troop withdrawals, despite assurances from both coalition and Afghan officials. Gathered here are images from the ongoing conflict over the past 31 days, part of an ongoing monthly series on Afghanistan. [41 photos]

Members of the Third Platoon, Bravo Battery of the Automatic Battalion, 2nd Battalion, 8th Field Artillery Regiment, light up the Zabul province night firing their M777A2 howitzer at suspected enemy movements from Forward Operating Base Pasab, Zharay District, Zabul province, Afghanistan, on July 20, 2011. (U.S. Army/Sgt. Christopher McCann)

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The month of May in Afghanistan opened with news of US Navy SEALs killing Osama bin Laden. Suicide bombings claimed lives throughout the country, one injuring the top German commander. Another outside the Italian military base in Herat west of Kabul killed at least five. As the month closed, President Hamid Karzai issued vague warnings against Western airstrikes that cause civilian casualties. Gathered here in our monthly collection from Afghanistan are images of the US military mission and daily life in the country of just under 30 million people. -- Lloyd Young (45 photos total)
n Afghan youth looks on as a US Marine from 3rd Battalion 9th Marines Kodiak Company stands guard during a patrol in Kote Tazagul area in Marjah district in Helmand Province on May 24, 2011. US lawmakers saw momentum for political reconciliation in Afghanistan in the wake of Osama bin Laden's death, but voiced fear that the fight against extremism was floundering in Pakistan. (Massoud Hossaini/AFP/Getty Images)

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