Last month, reports surfaced, later confirmed by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has been delivering bags of cash to Karzai for a decade, in part to buy continued access and cooperation during the war. The New York Times reported that the payments had not resulted in the influence the CIA sought, and had instead fueled corruption and empowered warlords. A further report by the U.N. stated that opium cultivation across Afghanistan had increased for the third year in a row. As Western troops continue the long process of preparing for their December 2014 withdrawal, evidence of significant progress in Afghanistan remains elusive. The photos below are just a glimpse of this conflict over the past month, part of the ongoing series here on Afghanistan.
An Afghan woman in a burqa walks along a road on a windy day on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan, on April 16, 2013.
An Afghan National Army commando from 1st Company, 7th Special Operations Kandak, receives feedback on his firing technique from commandos instructors during a range in Washer district, Helmand province, on April 22, 2013.
(U.S. Army/Sgt. Benjamin Tuck)
(1 of 2) People carry a schoolgirl who fell ill after smelling gas at her school, to the hospital in Kabul, on May 1, 2013. Over 150 schoolgirls in Kabul fell sick after smelling gas and drinking water, and were being examined for possible poisoning, hospital officials said on Wednesday.
(2 of 2) Afghan school girls receive treatment after becoming ill, at a hospital in Kabul, on May 1, 2013. Amanullah Eman, a spokesman for the Education Ministry, said some students were briefly hospitalized but all were doing well. He said a number of factors were being investigated, including the use of fertilizers in nearby farm land.
(AP Photo/Ahmad Jamshid)
A heavily armed Afghan policeman destroys an opium poppy field in Noorgal district of Kunar province, east of Kabul, on April 13, 2013. When foreign troops arrived in Afghanistan in 2001, one of their goals was to stem drug production. Instead, they have concentrated on fighting insurgents, and have often been accused of turning a blind eye to the poppy fields.
(AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
An Afghan Local Police officer looks through a hole made by a rocket fired previously by insurgents at the Budyali check post, during a patrol by 2nd Platoon Bravo Company, 1-3271 Infantry of Combined Team Bastogne (Nangarhar), 1st Brigade Combat Team, in Kush Kunar district, on April 7, 2013.
(Manjunath Kiran/AFP/Getty Images)
Afghan schoolgirls study during a lesson in Qala-i-Gudar village in Qarabagh district Kabul province, on April 3, 2013. At the school in a bombed-out Afghan village near Kabul, Angelina Jolie is known as an aid worker or engineer -- never as one of the world's most famous film stars. Jolie, a special envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, built the school in Qala-i-Gudar last year and is planning to open more in Afghanistan with profits from a newly-launched jewelery line that she has designed. The Hollywood star visited Qala-i-Gudar in 2011, and she retains an avid fan base among residents who have never seen any of her films and have no idea about her global fame as an actress.
(Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images)
Afghan boys wait for backpacks at the all-boys Pashtu Abad school in Ghazni district, Ghazni province, on April 20, 2013. Khalilullah Hotak, a member of the Nejat Social Council of Ghazni province, distributed backpacks and desks to the school that teaches over 600 boys.
(U.S. Army/Spc. Jessica Reyna DeBooy/Released)
A T-Hawk aerial vehicle, operated by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Benjamin Parale, assigned to the 232rd Security Force Assistance Advisory Team, flies over Forward Operating Base Zeebruge in Kajaki District, Helmand province, on April 11, 2013. The Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) provides reconnaissance, surveillance, and targeting acquisition capabilities.
(USMC/Cpl. Trent A. Randolph)
(1 of 2) Afghan National Army soldiers, at the site of a suicide attack in Farah province on April 4, 2013. Taliban gunmen who killed 46 people at an Afghan court complex in a bid to free insurgents standing trial moved ruthlessly from room to room, shooting everyone they found, officials recounted on April 3. Defenseless civilians, judges, lawyers and court staff were left dead after nine militants disguised as Afghan soldiers launched an eight-hour assault which only ended after security forces finally killed the last surviving gunman.
(Aref Karimi/AFP/Getty Images)
A U.S. Black Hawk helicopter arrives, after a NATO helicopter crashed killing two American service members in a field near Gerakhel, eastern Afghanistan, on April 9, 2013. The U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force said the cause of the crash is under investigation but initial reporting indicates there was no enemy activity in the area at the time.
(AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
An Army carry team moves a transfer case containing the remains of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civilian Hyun K. Shin, as U.S. Air Force Col. John Devillier, right, U.S. Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations, and Major Gen. John G. Rossi, second from right, Director, U.S. Army Quadrennial Defense Review Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, salute, on April 8, 2013, at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. According to the Department of Defense, Shin, of Hesperia, California, died while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Afghanistan security forces investigate the site of a roadside bomb blast in Saidabad district of Wardak province, on April 8, 2013. A roadside bomb exploded under an Afghan bus southwest of Kabul, killing nine people and wounding at least 22 others in an attack blamed on Taliban militants, officials said.
(Rahmatullah Alizad/AFP/Getty Images)
Afghan prisoner Fauzia stares through the prison bars at Badam Bagh, Afghanistan's central women's prison, in Kabul, on March 28, 2013. Fauzia is the oldest woman in jail and has served already seven years in jail. She is serving a 17 year sentence for killing her husband and her daughter-in-law. "I was in one room. I came into the next room and they were there having sexual relations. I found a big knife and killed them both," she said in a voice empty of emotion.
(AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)