The Afghan conflict may overtake Syria as the world's deadliest conflict this year, analysts say, as violence swells 17 years after the US-led invasion.
The grim assessment is in sharp contrast to the consistently positive public opinion on the conflict from the Resolute Support NATO mission in Kabul and highlights the growing sense of hopelessness in the war-torn country.
It suggests that US President Donald Trump's much-vaunted strategy for Afghanistan, like that of his predecessors, failed to move the needle on the battlefield, observers said, as a generation of Americans were born after September 11 to grow old enough.
"Rising losses in Afghanistan and the potential final in Syria … could make Afghanistan the deadliest conflict in the world," said Johnny Walsh, an Afghanistan expert at the United States Institute of Peace. "Most of the years have become the new" most violent year. "It's getting worse and worse."
The Syrian conflict, which began a decade after Afghanistan, has cost more than 15,000 lives this year, according to the Syrian Human Rights Observatory. Graeme Smith, an adviser to the International Crisis Group, suggested "that the Afghan war will cause more than 20,000 deaths in 2018" including civilians and combatants. "That could exceed any other conflict, possibly even the war in Syria," he added.