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April 13, 2012

Afghanistan: March 2012

In early April, in an attempt to accelerate the transition of military responsibility to the Afghan government, the US agreed to hand control of special operations missions to Afghan forces, including night raids, relegating American troops to a supporting role. This deal cleared the way for the two countries to move ahead with an agreement that would establish the shape of American support to Afghanistan after the 2014 troop withdrawal deadline. Domestic support for the war (in the US) has dropped sharply. We look back at March in the troubled country. -- Paula Nelson (37 photos total)

Young Afghan women use an umbrella to shield themselves from the sun in Kabul, April 5, 2012. The position of women in Afghanistan has improved dramatically since the fall of the Taliban, with the number of girls in education soaring. But as the Americans and the Afghan government have pursued peace efforts with the Taliban, women are increasingly concerned that gains in their rights may be compromised in a bid to end the costly and deadly war. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images)

An Afghan woman carries a basket on her head in Kabul, April 6, 2012. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images) #

An Afghan boy leaps on his bike near the Darul Aman Palace in Kabul, April 6, 2012. Nestled beneath the mountains that surround Kabul, the shattered shell of the Darul Aman Palace stands in mute testimony to the brutality and callousness of Afghanistan's history of conflict. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images) #

An Afghan miner unloads coal from his donkeys outside a coal mine in Samangan province, north of Kabul, April 3, 2012. Afghanistan is believed to have mineral reserves worth as much as 3 trillion USD which could theoretically generate billions of dollars in tax revenue for the troubled country. (Qais Usyan/AFP/Getty Images) #

An Afghan miner with his donkey loaded with coal outside a coal mine in Samangan province, north of Kabul, April 3, 2012. (Qais Usyan/AFP/Getty Images) #

An Afghan boy stands at a roadside food stall as US soldiers patrol in the town of Hutal in Maiwand district in Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan. (Baz Ratner/Reuters) #

A drug addict covers her son as she prepares to leave the Nejat drug rehabilitation center, an organization funded by the United Nations providing harm reduction and HIV/AIDS awareness, in Kabul. With little funding and no access to substitution drugs such as methadone, treatment is rudimentary at Nejat for a problem that is growing in a dirt-poor country riven by conflicts for more than three decades. Opiate consumption in Afghanistan, where it has long been a medication but in recent years has been used increasingly for recreation, is also on a sharp rise. (Ahmad Masood/Reuters) #

A drug addict holds her child as she visits the Nejat drug rehabilitation center in Kabul. Shrouded in stigma, female drug users is a topic that is almost never mentioned in Afghanistan. (Ahmad Masood/Reuters) #

An Afghan woman holds up opium as she attends a counseling session at the Nejat drug rehabilitation center. Opiate consumption in Afghanistan, where it has long been a medication but in recent years has been used increasingly for recreation, is also on a sharp rise. Nejat estimates around 60,000 women in Afghanistan regularly take illegal drugs, including hashish and marijuana. (Ahmad Masood/Reuters) #

A drug addict waits for her turn to see doctors at the Nejat drug rehabilitation center. With little funding and no access to substitution drugs such as methadone, treatment is rudimentary at Nejat for a problem that is growing in a dirt-poor country riven by conflicts for more than three decades. (Ahmad Masood/Reuters) #

Afghan women walk outside a house near the DHQ (Char Dara District Police Headquarters) in the province of Kunduz, March 29, 2012. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images) #

Afghan girls walk home from school near the DHQ in the province of Kunduz, March 29, 2012. In Kabul and major cities in Afghanistan, enormous progress has been made in women's rights since the 2001 US-led invasion brought down the Taliban regime, which banned girls from going to school and women from working. But in remote areas where the traditional patriarchal system is very much the norm, life for most women has barely improved at all. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images) #

Afghan boys look through a school window near the DHQ, March 29, 2012. Afghanistan has had only rare moments of peace over the past 30 years, its educational system being undermined by the Soviet invasion of 1979, a civil war in the 1990s and five years of Taliban rule. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images) #

An Afghan man trims his moustache in the old part of Kabul cit,y March 29, 2012. (Omar Sobhani/Reuters) #

An Afghan health worker administers the polio vaccine to a child on the third day of a vaccination campaign in Herat, March 27, 2012. A new three-day nationwide immunization campaign against polio began on March 25. Afghanistan is one of only of a handful of countries in the world that still has the crippling polio virus with new cases reported every year, most often in areas where insurgent threats mean vaccinators are unable to reach all children. (Aref Karimi/AFP/Getty Images) #

A former Taliban fighter who has joined Afghan government forces during a ceremony in Herat province, March 26, 2012. Twelve fighters left the Taliban to join government forces in western Afghanistan. The Taliban, ousted from power by a US-led invasion in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, announced earlier this month that they planned to set up a political office in Qatar ahead of talks with Washington. (Aref Karimi/AFP/Getty Images) #

An Afghan security man adjusts the scarf of a Taliban militant clad in an Afghan woman's dress at a news event to be presented to the media at the Afghan intelligence department in Mehterlam, Laghman province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, March 28, 2012. Afghan Intelligence forces arrested seven Taliban militants in Qarghayi district of Laghman province. (Rahmat Gul/Associated Press) #

Freja Hinchliffe 5, stands with her father Major Jonathon Hinchliffe of 3rd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment after a church service, March 16, 2012 in Warminster, England. The regiment earlier held a parade through Warminster Town center which was the last of the unit's public appearance before being deployed to Afghanistan. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) #

Army 2nd Lt. Brendan Kasony and his wife, Joyce, say their goodbyes with other members of the 119th Inland Cargo Transfer Company at the Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, March 20, 2012 in Virginia Beach, Va. The company left for Afghanistan for a year long deployment. (Bill Tiernan/The Virginian-Pilot/Associated Press) #

Sgt. Carlos Zapata is greeted by his daughter, Kylie, 7, upon his return home to Charlotte, N.C., March 23, 2012. Zapata and about 30 members of the 145th Airlift Wing, North Carolina Air National Guard, returned from participation in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. (Todd Sumlin/The Charlotte Observer/Associated Press) #

Maj. Matt O'Donnell of Glenelg, Md. turns away from rotor wash as Osprey aircraft carrying the delegation of U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta leaves from Forward Operating Base Shukvani, Afghanistan. (Scott Olson/Associated Press) #

Students listen to an address by Afghan President Hamid Karzai during a ceremony marking the start of the new school year at Amani High School in Kabul, March 24, 2012. Karzai called on Taliban insurgents to allow children to seek education. Education in Afghanistan has expanded rapidly following the fall of the Taliban, and the education ministry says there are now around 8.2 million students in school, increasing from around 1.2 million 10 years ago.(Massoud HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images) #

Afghan children sit inside a garbage bin next to their house in Kabul, March 15, 2012. (Omar Sobhani/Reuters) #

People gather in the outer courtyard of the Hazrat-e Ali shrine before Friday prayers in Mazar-i Sharif, March 23, 2012. The official religion in Afghanistan is Islam, mostly Sunni Muslims, with only one percent of the population practicing other religions. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images) #

An Afghan couple sits on a hill overlooking a celebration of the Persian New Year, Nowruz, at the Kart-e-Sakhi shrine in Kabul, March 20, 2012. Nowruz, the Farsi-language word for "new year," is an ancient Persian festival, celebrated on the first day of spring in countries including Afghanistan and Iran.(Musadeq Sadeq/Associated Press) #

Afghans gather to celebrate Afghan New Year (Nowruz) in Kabul, March 20, 2012. Afghanistan uses the Persian calendar which runs from the vernal equinox. The calendar takes as its start date the time when the Prophet Mohammad moved from Mecca to Medina in 621 AD. The current Persian year is 1391. (Omar Sobhani/Reuters) #

An Afghan boy during a celebration of the Persian New Year Nowruz at the Kart-e-Sakhi shrine in Kabul, March 20, 2012. (Ahamd Jamshid/Associated Press) #

Afghans gather to celebrate Afghan New Year (Nowruz) in Kabul, March 20, 2012. (Omar Sobhani/Reuters) #

A boy splashes water on his face near the Hazrat-e Ali shrine in Mazar-i Sharif, March 23, 2012. Children in Afghanistan suffer one of the highest levels of chronic malnutrition in the world, a report by the World Bank and government said, despite billions of dollars in aid that have poured into the war-torn country. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images) #

Afghan teenagers prepare to fly their kites on a hilltop overlooking Kabul. In the skies above Kabul, hundreds of Afghans celebrated the war-torn country's New Year by engaging in a vicious aerial combat to the death. High over a hill in the city, a white kite swept under a green, purple and orange rival and sliced through the thread connecting it to its owners, who smiled broadly even as their craft fluttered crippled and useless to the ground. "Every New Year we come here to fight kites," said Harst Kalq, a 20-year-old interpreter, whose kite had just lost. "Kite-flying is our culture. All Afghans like it. Children learn to make them when they are very small." (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images) #

Afghan children play on a swing set in Kabul, Afghanistan, March, 22, 2012. (Ahmad Jamshid/Associated Press) #

Afghans walk on a road between agricultural plots that have been newly planted with vegetable seeds near a U.S. military base in Jalalabad, eastern Afghanistan, March 23, 2012. (Erik De Castro/Retuers) #

US servicemen inside a plane before their departure to Afghanistan from the US transit center Manas, 30 km outside the Kyrgyzstan's capital Bishkek, March 27, 2012. A planned withdrawal of US and coalition forces by the end of 2014 hinges on building up Afghan army and police, but the surge in "fratricidal" attacks threatens to undermine that strategy, with strained relations between NATO troops and Afghan forces marked by distrust and cultural clashes. (Vyacheslav Oseledko/AFP/Getty Images) #

US servicemen sit inside a plane before their departure to Afghanistan from the US transit center Manas, 30 km outside the Kyrgyzstan's capital Bishkek, March 27, 2012. (Vyacheslav Oseledko/AFP/Getty Images) #

Afghanistan's Public Protection Forces (APPF) stand guard during a ceremony on the outskirts of Kabul, March 15, 2012. Blue Hackle, a US-based security and risk company in Afghanistan, handed weapons over to Afghanistan's Public Protection Forces (APPF) during the ceremony in front of local and international media representatives. (Massoud Hossaini/AFP/Getty Images) #

Afghan National Army soldiers play a board game while resting at an Afghan military base in Marawara district in Kunar province, eastern Afghanistan, March 14, 2012. (Erik De Castro/Reuters) #

French soldiers of the first regiment of marine artillery prepare a mortar to fire at their base during an exercise in Surobi district Kabul province, March 12, 2012. Some 600 soldiers are actually based in this camp, located west of the capital, Kabul. All combat troops are due to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014. (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images) #



 
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