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Since March, after a winter lull, fresh fighting and attacks have left more than 320 people dead, including 192 militants, according to figures compiled by the AP from U.S. and Afghan officials. Among the dead are 24 U.S. soldiers _ 15 of them killed in an April 9 helicopter crash blamed on a sandstorm.
Maj. Gen. Jason Kamiya, the operational commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, however, expressed optimism, and attributed the spike in clashes to the coalition taking "the fight to the enemy in his sanctuary."
He predicted there would be a "modest reduction" in the 16,700 troops in Afghanistan this summer. One battalion that was going to rotate would be kept in the United States as a rapid reaction force to be deployed in Afghanistan as necessary, he said. A battalion usually has between 500 and 750 soldiers.