Four US troops were killed by a roadside bomb in eastern Afghanistan today, bringing the American death toll to 21 since Friday. The US death toll for August now stands at 53, almost all of whom were killed in southern and eastern Afghanistan, where the Taliban insurgency is strongest, the AP reports. NATO commanders warn that casualties will keep rising as the offensive in the Taliban heartlands around Kandahar continues.
America's top commander in Afghanistan says the last of the extra troops being sent to the country will be in place within days. He stressed that the withdrawal of US troops scheduled to begin in July next year will be very gradual and will depend on conditions on the ground. Guidelines recently drawn up "recognize that this is a process, not an event. In other words it will typically represent a thinning out of ISAF forces, not a hand-off per se," Gen. David Petraeus told Reuters. (Read more Afghanistan stories.)