The Taliban claimed to have won a major victory over the US yesterday as American troops abandoned a remote base in eastern Afghanistan where eight soldiers were killed in a firefight last weekend. "The white flag of the Taliban is raised above Kamdesh," crowed a Taliban spokesman. NATO commanders say the pullout was planned long before the battle as part of a new strategy to concentrate forces in populated areas.
The base—which insurgents managed to penetrate during last week's battle—was destroyed with airstrikes after US forces departed, officials said. The withdrawal is a huge blow to morale for Afghan forces in the region, the provincial police chief told the AP. "If Afghan soldiers are losing support, how can they stay there?" he asked. "We need the coalition to send their forces back. We need more police, more soldiers."