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UN Reports 'Overall Deterioration' in Afghan Security

Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers stand at an outpost in Helmand province, Dec. 20, 2015.

The U.N.'s envoy to Afghanistan told the Security Council on Monday there has been an "overall deterioration" in security in the country, hours after a Taliban suicide bomber killed six U.S. troops in an attack on a NATO patrol.

Nicholas Haysom said Afghan troops are "stretched to capacity" and need better logistics, administration and efforts to boost morale. He also urged progress on the political front, saying the country's unity government needs to show increasing effectiveness in the next year.

"Afghanistan needs to find a political route to peace," he told the council.

A year has passed since the U.S.-led NATO coalition ended its combat mission in Afghanistan and transitioned to a force that is training and advising Afghan security forces as they try to defend the country on their own.

A U.S. Department of Defense report released last week said the Afghan forces have "uneven" capacity to hold territory they clear and "remain in a primarily defensive posture that limits their agility across the country." The report cites a 27 percent increase in their casualties this year.

More than 1,800 U.S. troops have been killed since the Afghan war began in October 2001.

The latest group included a New York City police officer who was deployed as a member of the U.S. Air National Guard, the NYPD said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying a suicide bomber on a motorcycle killed 19 soldiers. The militants are notorious for exaggerating casualty numbers.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the bombing, which also wounded two soldiers and a contractor, is a "painful reminder" of the dangers troops face every day in Afghanistan.

"As I saw firsthand during my visit to Afghanistan last Friday, our troops are working diligently alongside our Afghan partners to build a brighter future for the Afghan people. Their dedicated efforts will continue despite this tragic event," he said.

The White House condemned what it called the "cowardly attack" and reiterated its commitment to supporting the Afghan people and government.

"We will continue to work together to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan, just as we will not relent in our mission to counter the threat of terrorism that plagues the region," spokesman Josh Earnest said in a statement.