Afghanistan, March 2011 as presented by: Boston Big Picture

Every month in the Big Picture, we revisit Afghanistan, to see the people, to see our troops and troops from other nations, to get a sense of the country. President Hamid Karzai said recently his security forces will soon take charge of securing seven areas around Afghanistan, the first step toward his goal of having the Afghan police and soldiers protecting the entire nation by the end of 2014. Our troops are due to begin coming home this July. There is still work to be done. Many of the photos featured in this post show the celebration of the Afghan New Year. The festival to celebrate new year's starts on March 21 and is celebrated in Turkey, Central Asian republics, Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan, as well as war-torn Afghanistan and it coincides with the astronomical vernal equinox. One of the most popular places to bring in the new year, Mazar-i Sharif, attracts hundreds of thousands of Afghans. Afghan children play as they eat ice lollies in Kabul on March 21, the Afghan New Year. Marine Lance Corporal Shawnee Redbear plays with an Afghan toddler during a patrol in Basabad, Helmand province, on March 9. Redbear is part of a program to increase interactions with Afghan civilians, specifically women and children. Afghans carry balloons to sell, as they walk toward the Sakhi Shrine for new year's ceremonies in Kabul.

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