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Helmand Province

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US and NATO forces continue to train the Afghan troops in advance of the handover of the country's security in 2014. The US-led war in Afghanistan has cost the lives of around 3,000 US and allied troops, seen thousands of Afghans killed and cost hundreds of billions of dollars. We check in on our soldiers for May (and a little bit of June 2012.) -- Paula Nelson (45 photos total)
A female US marine and members of USN Hospital Corpsman from the 1st battalion 7th Marines Regiment walk at FOB (Forward Operating Base) Jackson also known as Sabit Khadam in Sangin, Helmand Province, June 7, 2012. The US-led war in Afghanistan has cost the lives of around 3,000 U.S. and allied troops, seen thousands of Afghans killed and cost hundreds of billions of dollars. (Adek Berryakek Berry/AFP/GettyImages)

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With well over a year before American forces pull out of Afghanistan, the conflict there drags on. Every month in The Big Picture, we feature a selection of recent images of events there, from the soldiers and insurgents at war, the people longing for peace, and daily life and culture in the country of 29 million. Afghanistan remains among the world's poorest nations, and struggles with issues not found in other places, like an ongoing fight against polio. Afghanistan still supplies about 90% of the world's opium, a major cash crop in a country with few viable exports. Gathered here are images from April, 2012. -- Lane Turner (33 photos total)
Afghan policemen are mirrored in glass from a broken window as they stand guard outside the building where Taliban fighters launched an attack in Kabul on April 16, 2012. A total of 36 Taliban militants were killed as they mounted a wave of attacks across Afghanistan. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images)

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When Sgt. Thomas James Brennan learned that a Reuters photographer would be embedded with his Marine squad, he went on the defensive. Less than a day later, his mind was changed under fire.

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KEEPING WARM
KEEPING WARM: An Indian camel herder wrapped himself in a blanket as sat next to his animals at the Pushkar fair in the Indian state of Rajasthan on Friday. (Manish Swarup/Associated Press)

SITTING WITH A SOLDIER
SITTING WITH A SOLDIER: Palestinian children looked at an Islamic Jihad militant in Beit Lahia in the Gaza Strip on Friday. Israel’s navy boarded two small protest boats trying to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip on Friday and towed them to an Israeli port. (Mohamed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)

RUSHING WATER
RUSHING WATER: A fireman walked down a flooded street in Genoa, Italy, on Friday after a storm hit the northern Italian port city. News reports said that at least six people were killed in the storm. (Luca Zennaro/EPA)

BRIGHT IDEA
BRIGHT IDEA: A worker picked through incandescent light bulbs in a store in Zaozhuang City, in Shandong Province, China, Friday. China unveiled its plan for phasing out the energy-inefficient incandescent bulbs in an attempt to promote energy conservation and reduce emissions. (Ji Zhe/Xinhua/Zuma Press)

TAKING FLIGHT
TAKING FLIGHT: A wounded Marine was airlifted by a medevac helicopter in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, on Friday. He was injured when his military vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device during a mission. (Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images)

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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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MUG SHOT
MUG SHOT: Self-proclaimed comedian and anarchist Jonathan May-Bowles was photographed by a police officer Tuesday after he lunged at Rupert Murdoch, the chief executive and chairman of News Corp., with a plate of shaving cream during a hearing on phone-hacking in London. (Reuters)

BIG CAT ATTACK
BIG CAT ATTACK: A leopard attacked a forest guard Tuesday in Prakash Nagar, India. Six people were mauled by the leopard after the feline strayed into the village and before it was caught by forestry department officials. (Diptendu Dutta/AFP/Getty Images)

ALL USED UP
ALL USED UP: A young boy lay Tuesday by empty USAID vegetable oil tins Tuesday at a refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya. The Dadaab refugee camp was designed in the early 1990s to accommodate 90,000 people, but the U.N. estimates more than four times that are living there. (Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

SPECIAL DELIVERY
SPECIAL DELIVERY: A man pushed a motorcycle carrying slaughtered pigs Tuesday outside a closed shopping mall in Hanoi, Vietnam. (Kham/Reuters)

HEAVY LIFTING
HEAVY LIFTING: U.S. Marine Cpl. William Bock, 22, of Philadelphia, worked out Tuesday under the light of his head lamp at Combat Outpost Shir Ghazay in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. (David Goldman/Associated Press)

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PINK PILGRIMS
PINK PILGRIMS: Pilgrims stood in the Quema River as they went Thursday to the shrine of El Rocio in Seville, Spain. Every spring hundreds of thousands of devotees converge at the shrine to pay homage to the Virgin del Rocio during a festival that combines religious fervor and festive color. (Marcelo del Pozo/Reuters)

STRAIGHT UP
STRAIGHT UP: A police officer held a truncheon behind his back in front of protesters in Valencia, Spain, Thursday. A Spanish official says demonstrators protesting bleak economic prospects and corrupt politicians clashed with police in Valencia and eight police were hurt. (Gabriel Gallo/Associated Press)

BOMB BLAST
BOMB BLAST: A man injured in a bomb blast in Matani, Pakistan, rested at a hospital in Peshawar Thursday. The blast hit a passenger vehicle, killing four people, including a woman and a child, the Peshawar police chief said. (Mohammad Sajjad/Associated Press)

VOLCANO FALLOUT
VOLCANO FALLOUT: Two women rested as a man wiped the floor Thursday at Jorge Newbery Airport in Buenos Aires, where flights were cancelled or delayed due to an ash cloud from the Puyehue volcano in Chile. (Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press)

SEA ACCIDENT
SEA ACCIDENT: A boy looked at a dead fin whale that washed up in Atlantic Beach, New York, Wednesday. Scientists performed a necropsy Thursday on the whale, and determined that it likely had been hit by a ship. (Kirk Condyles/Zuma Press)

FROM THE SKY
FROM THE SKY: A U.S. Marine went to pick up food supplies that were dropped off from a plane using small parachutes outside Forward Operating Base Edi in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, Thursday. The smoke is from burning parachutes the Marines destroy after they reach the ground. (Anja Niedringhaus/Associated Press)

FLEEING FIRE
FLEEING FIRE: An emergency vehicle traveled along highway 60 in Springerville, Ariz., Thursday through smoke from the Wallow Fire. The growing forest fire has forced thousands from their homes and threatens transmission lines that supply electricity as far east as Texas. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

EARLY RELEASE
EARLY RELEASE: Prisoners were processed to leave the Muwaqar Rehabilitation and Correction Center Thursday in Muwaqar, Jordan, Thursday. The government announced earlier this week that nearly 8,000 prisoners will be freed under the general pardon law and 6,000 cases that are being seen by courts will be annulled. (Salah Malkawi/Getty Images)

YOUNG REFUGEES
YOUNG REFUGEES: Syrian children posed at a refugee camp in the Turkish border town of Yayladagi Thursday. More than 2,400 people have crossed Turkey’s borders fleeing violence in northern Syria, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said. (Osman Orsal/Reuters)

MORE MURDERS
MORE MURDERS: The bodies of five dead men were lined up by police and forensic workers after they were found on a highway on the outskirts of Morelia, Mexico, Wednesday. The bodies of 21 men, showing bullet wounds and signs of torture, were found in multiple locations with messages saying that the men had been killed for being thieves and rapists, according to local media. (Leovigildo Gonzalez/Reuters)

SALEH STABLE
SALEH STABLE: Supporters of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh kissed his portrait as they celebrated news that Mr. Saleh’s health is stable after he was wounded in a rocket attack on his compound nearly a week ago and flown to Saudi Arabia for urgent medical treatment. (Mohammed Al-Sayaghi/Associated Press)

UNCLAIMED COFFINS
UNCLAIMED COFFINS: An Egyptian woman lay flowers on the flag-draped coffins of 19 unidentified victims, who were killed during the Egyptian uprising but whose remains were never claimed, during a mass funeral at Al-Sayida Nafisa mosque in Cairo Thursday. (Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images)

HOT HOT HEAT
HOT HOT HEAT: An art installation of a melting fan was displayed in a subway station Thursday in Atlanta. While relief was in sight after one more day of sweltering temperatures in the Northeast, the South was forecast to stay hotter than usual at least through the end of the week. (David Goldman/Associated Press)

AFTER YOU
AFTER YOU: A series of images shows Larry, the Downing Street cat, being let in to 10 Downing Street in London Thursday. (Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images)

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