Last week, after a decade of U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, President Obama announced a plan to begin withdrawing thousands of U.S. troops from the country this year. The war has been expensive -- a Brown University research project released Wednesday estimates the total cost of the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq at nearly $4 trillion (a figure that includes the ongoing cost of veterans' care). The human cost is more difficult to quantify, as more than 2,500 coalition troops (1,644 of them American) have now been killed, and civilian casualties are estimated at well over 100,000. Canadian combat operations in Afghanistan will end in July, as troops withdraw from the southern region and hand control over to U.S. forces. Just yesterday, a group of nine Taliban suicide attackers stormed a major hotel in Kabul that was popular with foreigners, killing 21 and raising fears of what may come as foreign troops depart the country. Gathered here are images from the ongoing conflict over the past month, part of an ongoing monthly series on Afghanistan.
Foreign soldiers leave the Intercontinental Hotel at the end of a military operation against Taliban militants who had stormed the hotel in Kabul, on June 29, 2011. Taliban suicide bombers and gunmen attacked the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul sparking a five-hour battle with Afghan commandos backed by a NATO helicopter gunship in an assault that left at least 10 people dead. (Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images) View original.
2 A NATO helicopter fires at the Intercontinental Hotel in response to an attack on the hotel by Taliban fighters in Kabul, on June 29. NATO helicopters were called in to help crush the brazen attack, which officials said ended with six would-be suicide bombers killed by security forces. (Massoud Hossaini/AFP/Getty Images) # View original.
3 Houses erected on the side of a mountain near Kabul, on June 12, 2011. (Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images) # View original.
4 An Afghan child watches as others from the Community Center for the Disabled (CCD) take part in a performance on child labor to honor "World Day Against Child Labour" at The French Culture Center in Kabul, on June 12, 2011. (Massoud Hossaini/AFP/Getty Images) # View original.
5 A Marine with Route Clearance Platoon, 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, drives his Husky mine detection vehicle and scans Route 612 for improvised explosive devices near Washir, Helmand province, Afghanistan. (Sgt. Earnest J. Barnes/USMC) # View original.
6 An Afghan boy jumps into a public swimming pool in Kabul, on June 10, 2011. The temperature in the city that day reached 33° C (91° F). (Reuters/Omar Sobhani) # View original.
7 An MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 264 (VMM-264) unloads passengers after an extraction flight at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, on June 7, 2011. (Sgt. Ricardo A. Gomez/USMC) # View original.
8 Canadian soldiers carry the coffin of Master Corporal Francis Roy during a ramp ceremony at Kandahar Air Field, on June 28, 2011. Roy, 32, was found dead in a forward fire base in Kandahar city on June 25, and the circumstances of his death are still under investigation, an army spokesman said. (Reuters/Baz Ratner) # View original.
9 Heavy equipment along the Bamiyan-Yakawlang road, currently under construction, on June 10, 2011 in Yakawlang, Afghanistan. The $69 million project is supported by the government of Japan and the World Bank. The 90 km (60 mi) road project was started three years ago and is slated to be finished within another year. This new road means faster travel from Bamiyan to Afghanistan's only national park, Band-e-Amir -- the hope is to expand tourism in the region. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images) # View original.
10 An Afghan man puts a scarf over the body of an insurgent after he was killed during an attack at a Kabul police station, on June 18, 2011. Suicide bombers in army uniform attacked the Kabul police compound, killing two policemen and a civilian in the second major attack inside the Afghan capital in under a month, Afghan officials said. (Reuters/Ahmad Masood) # View original.
11 A Royal Air Force GR4 Tornado maneuvers into position during an air refueling mission supporting Operation Enduring Freedom over Afghanistan, on June 3, 2011. (Master Sgt. William Greer/USAF) # View original.
12 Some of the losing candidates in the September 2010 Afghanistan election gather for a meeting organized for the disaffected losing contestants who have now been declared winners following a special investigative tribunal investigating alleged voting irregularities, in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sunday June 26, 2011. There are 62 members of parliament who are alleged to have committed voting irregularities and fraud but who now refuse to leave parliament, creating an impasse for these candidates who are now unable to take their seat in the parliament. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe) # View original.
13 Amy Balduf, of Richmond, Tenn., is comforted by a Marine at the graveside of her husband, U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Kevin Balduf, who was killed serving in Afghanistan, at Arlington National Cemetery, on Wednesday, June 15, 2011. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) # View original.
14 Canadian Forces soldier Cpl. Ben Vandandaigue, plays on a drum kit, on Friday, June 24, 2011, at Forward Operating Base Sperwan Ghar overlooking the Panjwaii district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/David Goldman) # View original.
15 Capt. Dawn Russell, a physician assistant assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, treats an injured Afghan boy while PRT personnel hold flashlights, at Forward Operating Base Smart in Qalat, on June 9, 2011. The patient was transported to FOB Smart from Zabul Provincial Hospital after an improvised explosive device detonated, injuring two civilian children. Both children were medically evacuated by helicopter for further medical care. (Reuters/U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson) # View original.
16 A Hazara Afghan day laborer poses for the camera in Kabul's old quarter, on June 8, 2011. Hazara Afghans are Persian speaking and live mainly in central Afghanistan and comprise the third largest ethnic group of the country. (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images) # View original.
17 An Afghan shopkeeper adjusts the women's dresses lined up on mannequins in his store in Jalalabad, Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, on Monday, June 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) # View original.
18 A U.S. Army crewman sits at the rear of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter accompanying the Blackhawk of U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates between Forward Operating Bases in over eastern Afghanistan, on June 6, 2011. (Reuters/Jason Reed) # View original.
19 Melissa Lamb carries her two-year-old daughter Rosie as she touches the hearse carrying the coffin of her husband, Rifleman Martin Lamb, draped in a union flag at Wootton Bassett in Wiltshire, southern England, on June 9, 2011. Three soldiers recently killed in Afghanistan were repatriated and their cortege driven through the town of Wootton Bassett. (Reuters/Dylan Martinez) # View original.
20 A member of the Italian Army's Folgore Parachute Brigade in free fall after jumping from a helicopter above Herat, Afghanistan, on June 21, 2011. (ISAF Media) # View original.
21 An Afghan girl plays on a skateboard to mark World Skateboarding Day in Kabul, on Tuesday, June 21, 2011. Hundreds of Afghan boys and girls took to their skateboards in Kabul to celebrate the day. (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq) # View original.
22 A U.S. Army soldier assigned to Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, walks through a valley during a patrol through Malajat, Afghanistan, on June 4, 2011. (Sgt. Canaan Radcliffe/US Army) # View original.
23 Lance Cpl. Blas Trevino, of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, shouts out as he boards a medevac helicopter from the U.S. Army's Task Force Lift "Dust Off", Charlie Company 1-214 Aviation Regiment, after he was shot in the stomach outside Sangin, in southern Afghanistan, on Saturday, June 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus) # View original.
24 Lance Cpl. Blas Trevino clutches his rosary beads as he is rescued onto a medevac helicopter from the U.S. Army's Task Force Lift "Dust Off", Charlie Company 1-214 Aviation Regiment after he was shot in the stomach, on Saturday, June 11, 2011. The Army's "Dust Off" crew needed two attempts to get him out, as they were fired upon and took five rounds in the tail of their aircraft. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus) # View original.
25 Food supplies for U.S. Marines hanging from small parachutes after being dropped from a plane outside Forward Operating Base Edi in the Helmand Province of southern Afghanistan, on Monday, June 6, 2011. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus) # View original.
26 A U.S. Marine on his way to pick up food supplies after they were dropped from a plane outside Forward Operating Base Edi on southern Afghanistan, on Thursday, June 9, 2011. The smoke in the background comes from burning parachutes, as the Marines destroy them once they reach the ground. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus) # View original.
27 A wounded Italian soldier is helped after a blast near a foreign base in Herat, on May 30, 2011. At least two suicide bombers were involved in an attack near an Italian-run base in the main city in western Afghanistan, an Interior Ministry spokesman said. (Reuters/Mohammad Shoib) # View original.
28 Canadian Army Corporal John McMurry uses his laptop in the back of a light armored vehicle in Seprwan Ghar forward fire base in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan, on June 24, 2011. (Reuters/Baz Ratner) # View original.
29 Villagers offer prayers over covered bodies, during the funeral ceremony for Afghanis killed by gunmen at a wedding party in Dur Baba district of Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, on Thursday, June 9, 2011. Gunmen had opened fire on the wedding party in eastern Afghanistan, killing nine people, including the groom, officials said. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) # View original.
30 A Canadian Army soldier of the 22nd Royal Regiment, 1st battalion, Bulldog company, 1st platoon, walks in forward fire base Zangabad in Panjwai district in Kandahar, on June 19, 2011. (Reuters/Baz Ratner) # View original.
31 Canadian soldiers from the 6th Platoon, Bulldog Company, 1st Battalion, 22nd Royal Regiment search inside a barn during a patrol in the Panjwai district, on June 13, 2011. (Reuters/Baz Ratner) # View original.
32 Afghan refugee children gather in a slum area on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday, June 20, 2011 - the day recognized as World Refugee Day. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) # View original.
33 U.S. Army soldiers from the 2nd Platoon, B battery 2-8 field artillery, fire an artillery piece at Seprwan Ghar forward fire base in Panjwai district, Kandahar, on June 12, 2011. (Reuters/Baz Ratner) # View original.
34 A young Afghan patient walks with his artificial legs as other patients look on at one of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) hospitals for war victims and disabled in Kabul, on June 27, 2011. The ICRC orthopedic project started in 1988 in Kabul, and it consists of 7 centers in different provinces. (Massoud Hossaini/AFP/Getty Images) # View original.
35 A Canadian soldier from the 6th Platoon, Bulldog Company, 1st Battalion, 22nd Royal Regiment uses his night vision goggles during a patrol in the Panjwai district in southern Afghanistan, on June 13, 2011. (Reuters/Baz Ratner) # View original.
36 Lyndi Koutz (center) and her daughter Annaleise Koutz are presented with the flag from their husband and step-father U.S. Army Sgt. Jeffrey Sherer's casket during his burial service at Arlington National Cemetery, on June 23, 2011 in Arlington, Virginia. A member of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Sherer was killed when his Stryker vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Shah Joy, near the regional capital of Kandahar, Afghanistan. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) # View original.
37 An Afghan timber seller peels a pole at a roadside timber stall in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Tuesday, June 21, 2011. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe) # View original.
38 Hopeful Afghan rugby players exercise in a field hockey venue, on June 18, 2011, alongside Kabul's Olympic Stadium. The stadium is the same arena the Taliban once used to publicly cut off the hands of thieves and hold executions. This is the start of an Afghan national rugby team, a sport still in its infancy in a war-ravaged nation where practices get canceled by Taliban attacks and players are patted down for suicide bomb vests. Organizers and athletes dream of one day being recognized internationally and playing against the greats like South Africa and New Zealand, though they have many pitches to travel before that day. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe) # View original.
39 Brigadier-General Dean Milner, Commander of Canadian forces in Afghanistan, talks with Gul Agha, head of security for Zalakhan village, as his son Nazir sits next to him, on Friday, June 24, 2011 in Zalakhan, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/David Goldman) # View original.
40 Jonathan Chalifoux, 23, of Germanville, Quebec, Canada, with the Canadian Army's 1st Battalion 22nd Royal Regiment, takes cover as a controlled detonation goes off in the background during an operation on Sunday, June 26, 2011 in the Panjwaii district, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/David Goldman) # View original.
41 Relatives of a German soldier killed in Afghanistan comfort each other following a funeral ceremony outside the Evangelische Epiphanias Church during a memorial service in the German city of Hanover, on June 3, 2011. Three soldiers were killed in a bomb attack in Afghanistan, on May 28, 2011. (John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images) # View original.