Seven American service members were killed in separate attacks throughout Afghanistan on Monday, a sign of intensifying conflict as the U.S. military pushes deeper into the wildest regions of the turbulent country.
The troop deaths came as thousands of U.S. Marines continued with their new offensive regional strategy in the southern Helmand province to ultimately defeat the Taliban and strengthen Afghanistan, according to The Associated Press.
"Operation Strike of the Sword" was launched in response to a spike in insurgency-related violence in the country. It is the largest U.S. military operation since the ouster of the Taliban from power in 2001.
While no outbreaks or battles have been reported in Helmand since the operation got underway last Thursday, attacks across the country since then have taken the lives of civilians as well as Afghan and foreign soldiers.
The deaths -- two in the south, four in the north, and one in the east -- were likely all a result of insurgent assaults. At least six of the casualties were caused by makeshift explosive devices, or roadside bombs, both common weaponry of insurgent strikes, according to a statement from NATO's International Security Assistance Force.
Northern Afghanistan is thought to be relatively peaceful, compared to the Taliban stronghold regions in south and east. Today's events may suggest insurgents' determination to force their way into the regions of the country that have been into that have been comparatively calm and quiet, such as Afghanistan's northern tier.
To ultimate goal of the military operation is to stablize the country so Afghans can vote in presidential elections on Aug. 20.