Kabul: Foreign troops fighting in Afghanistan continue to pay a high toll, with more than 560 killed in 2011, the second highest number in the 10-year war against the Taliban-led insurgency.

Commanders from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) say violence is declining following the US military surge which saw an extra 33,000 troops on the ground.

But the UN says violence is up, while recent mass casualty strikes by the Taliban on civilians and coalition troops have fuelled analyst predictions that more bloodshed is likely as NATO hands control for security to Afghan forces.

The death toll of coalition service personnel in 2011 was 566 and includes at least 417 from the US and 45 from Britain, according to a tally based on figures from independent website icasualties.org.

The number is down from a wartime high of 711 in 2010 after the start of the surge but up from 521 in 2009.

The toll in 2011 was added to on the final day of the year when ISAF announced a service member had died after a non-battle related incident in the south.

The fatality count has been worsened by several devastating attacks, including the car bombing of an ISAF convoy in Kabul in October which killed 17, and the shooting down of a helicopter in Wardak, south of the capital, in August in which 30 US troops perished.

But it is Afghan civilians who have paid the highest price.

The deadliest attack saw at least 80 people killed in a shrine bombing in Kabul on the Shiite holy day of Ashura in early December.

The surge troops, ordered in by US President Barack Obama two years ago to turn the tide in the war, have now begun to pull out, with 10,000 already gone and the rest leaving by next autumn.

Other foreign forces are also scaling down their missions ahead of a 2014 deadline for the withdrawal of all NATO combat forces. And one Western military official said some units have already been told not to carry out offensive operations.

Since the US-led invasion toppled the Taliban from power in 2001, a total of 2,847 foreign troops have died in the conflict.

"We've seen a considerable reduction in enemy attacks (this year). That's a result of successes on the battle field and a reduction of their capability to attack us," said ISAF spokesman Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson.

(Agencies)