KABUL, Afghanistan - The deadliest three months for American forces in Afghanistan have pushed the U.S. death toll to at least 500, forcing a war long overshadowed by Iraq back into the headlines.
Larger, more sophisticated militant attacks have also caused a sharp rise in Afghan civilian deaths - at least 472 in the first seven months of the year, most in suicide bombings, according to an Associated Press count.
In all, at least 600 Afghan civilians were killed from January through July, a 30 percent increase from the same period last year, according to AP figures compiled from coalition and Afghan officials. That includes at least 128 killed by U.S. or NATO forces.
There are about 33,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the highest since the war began, meaning more troops than ever are patrolling this country's mountainous terrain and exposed to ambushes and roadside bombs.
The U.S. military suffered 65 deaths in May, June and July, by far the deadliest three-month period in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001. The previous deadliest three-month period was in the spring of 2005, with 45 U.S. deaths.
In July, more U.S. troops died in Afghanistan than in Iraq for the month, for the first time since the Iraq war started in 2003. In all, 92 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan this year, a pace that would surpass last year's death toll of 111. The spike in violence is forcing U.S. leaders, including the presidential candidates, to call for still more troops here.