UK forces have been in Afghanistan for almost a decade. The death toll now exceeds that of the Iraq war and more than 100 soldiers died last year. Read key facts and figures about the war, and the British and other international forces fighting the Taliban and engaged in reconstruction work.
Highest monthly death toll comes in July 2009, with 22 dead, as a major offensive against the Taliban begins in the south.
British and other ISAF troops face a determined enemy in the Taliban. The insurgents consist mainly of Afghans, though numbers of Arab and Uzbek fighters are also be involved. Groups of fighters are usually organised along local and tribal lines and led by a senior, experienced commander.
Here we compare a British soldier with his Taliban counterpart.
Main weapons: Standard issue SA-80 rifle, L1A1 12.7 mm Heavy Machine gun, 81mm Mortar
Strengths: Highly-trained, well-supported professional soldier with modern equipment. Air support available
Weaknesses: May struggle to adapt to fighting in the harsh Afghan environment. Lacks intimate knowledge of local landscape, may face hostility and distrust from civilians
Main weapons: Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle, Rocket-Propelled Grenades.
Strengths: Tenacious, well-supplied guerrilla force highly adapted to local climate and geography. Can blend in with local population when required.
Weaknesses: Vulnerable to air attack. Few heavy weapons. Factional nature can mean shifting loyalties. Poor weapons-handling skills.
Mobility is a major factor in guerrilla warfare and Taliban fighters often operate as a 'pick-up truck cavalry' force in adapted four-wheel drive vehicles such as the Toyota Hi-Lux.
ISAF forces tend to rely on heavier armoured vehicles.
Defences: Heavy armour and V-shaped hull to protect against roadside bombs and mines.
Strengths: State-of-the-art, heavily armed, armoured patrol vehicle designed to carry 8 soldiers and 2 crew.
Defences: Some carry RPG launchers, heavy machine guns.
Strengths: Hard-wearing, fast, reliable off-road transport for up to 10 Taliban fighters.
Weaknesses: No armour, variable levels of mechanical support.
Cost: Approximately $10,000 in local terms.
The true number of civilians killed in the Afghan conflict will probably never be known. ISAF has only recently begun to count the numbers of civilians killed. The estimates below are based on estimates provided by a range of agencies together with local and international press reports.
Numbers of troops
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Total (approx.): 73,554
* Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
+ The US has around 36,000 additional troops in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom
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