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But as the army has grown, so, too, has the toll it has suffered. In what has become the deadliest year for international troops in Afghanistan, with 695 NATO troops killed, Gen. Azimi said 806 Afghan soldiers have been killed since the start of 2010. So far this month, 63 Afghan soldiers have died, compared with 43 in November, he said.

Associated Press writer Amir Shah contributed to this report.