KABUL, Afghanistan -- More NATO troops, and more Americans, were killed in Afghanistan in August than in any other month this year.
Fifty-three Western troops had died in Afghanistan as of Aug. 31, according to the website icasualties.org. Of those, 38 were Americans. U.S. troops make up about two-thirds of the NATO force.
U.S. military fatalities, in particular, were driven by the phenomenon of “insider” attacks in which members of the Afghan security forces turn their weapons on Western troops. Of the 15 such deaths in August, 12 were of Americans.
Another nine coalition deaths, seven of them Americans, occurred in helicopter crashes.
However, military deaths in August were down significantly than the same month in 2011, when 82 members of the NATO force were killed, 71 of them Americans. That was the most lethal month of that year, too.
Western military officials generally say there is a correlation between the number of coalition troops in Afghanistan and the numbers who are killed and injured. American troop strength peaked last year at just over 100,000; by the end of September it will have dropped to 68,000.
Photo: The remains of Army Pfc. Shane W. Cantu of Corunna, Mich., are ceremonially received upon their return to U.S. soil Thursday at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Cantu was killed in Afghanistan, the Defense Department said. Credit: Luis M. Alvarez / Associated Press