KABUL (Reuters) - The number of foreign troops killed in Afghanistan this year has reached at least 500, compared with 521 in all of 2009, according to an independent monitoring site Monday and a tally compiled by Reuters.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said an ISAF service member was killed in an insurgent attack in the east Sunday. No other details were immediately available.
There has been a sharp increase in foreign military deaths, many of them American, as foreign troops launch more operations to counter a growing Taliban-led insurgency that has spread out of traditional strongholds in the south and east.
At least five ISAF troops have been killed since Friday, including the first Georgian killed in the conflict.
Violence across Afghanistan has hit its worst since the Taliban were ousted by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in late 2001. Military and civilian casualties are at record levels, with U.S. and NATO commanders warning of more tough fighting ahead.
The spiraling death tolls come despite the presence of almost 150,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan and will be another worrying statistic when U.S. President Barack Obama conducts a strategy review of the war in December.
Public support for the war is flagging, with a recent opinion poll by NBC television and the Wall Street Journal showing as many as seven in 10 Americans saying they did not believe the war would end successfully.
The traditional summer fighting period has taken a heavy toll on foreign troops this year. A total of 102 were killed in June, the deadliest month of the war, followed by 88 in July and another 80 in August, according to independent monitor www.iCasualties.org.
The latest casualties take to 2,068 the number killed since 2001, almost half of them in 2009 and 2010. Roughly 60 percent of those killed were Americans.
Despite the heavy military toll, ordinary Afghans continue to bear the brunt of the war.
A United Nations report released last month showed that civilian casualties had risen by 31 percent in the first six months of 2010, compared with the same period last year, with more than three-quarters of the casualties caused by insurgents.
(Reporting by Paul Tait; Editing by Alex Richardson)
Source: Reuters US Online Report Top News