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Expectations for quick results in Afghanistan diminished

U.S. military officials Wednesday dampened expectations for quick results from offensives in Afghanistan and played down a year-end review that the Obama administration earlier portrayed as a major evaluation of the U.S.-led effort.

"I would not want to overplay the significance of this review," Gen. David H. Petraeus told members of the House Armed Services Committee, referring to plans by the administration to evaluate progress in Afghanistan in December. "We would not make too much out of that."

Administration officials announced the review last year when President Obama ordered 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. At the time, officials characterized it as an opportunity to evaluate whether it will be possible to begin handing off security responsibilities to Afghan forces in July 2011, the deadline set by Obama for beginning a U.S. drawdown.

It was the second day of testimony for Petraeus, whose appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday was cut short after he appeared to faint while answering questions.

Saying he had been dehydrated, he returned to the committee Wednesday morning and reassured Republicans that the July 2011 deadline set by Obama for beginning U.S. troop withdrawal is "not the date when the U.S. heads for the exits."

In other developments Wednesday:

*A roadside bombing killed two U.S. service members in northern Afghanistan, officials said, pushing the death toll among American troops so far this month to 30.

*Five Stryker Brigade soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Pierce County, Wash., killed three civilians in separate shootings in Afghanistan's Kandahar Province earlier this year, charging documents released by the Army allege. The Army said all three victims were shot and two of them were hit by thrown grenades.

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