The U.S. review of President Barack Obama's Afghan war strategy has identified areas of important progress, the White House said, with the decision a year ago to send 30,000 extra troops helping to arrest the Taliban's momentum.
That may help to allow some U.S. troops to begin withdrawing from July next year, as Obama promised when he announced the extra troops last December.
However, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it expected fighting to increase in the coming year just as it had in 2010, the deadliest year of the war since the Taliban were ousted in late 2001.
"The proliferation of armed groups threatens the ability of humanitarian organisations to access those in need. Access for the ICRC has over the last 30 years never been as poor," Reto Stocker, head of the ICRC in Afghanistan, told a news conference.