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With US Gone, Afghans Struggle to Keep Taliban at Bay

1.3K killed between June and November in Helmand province: report
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Dec 23, 2014 2:43 PM CST

(Newser) – Following the departure of most US forces from Afghanistan, clashes between its security forces and the Taliban have been renewed, with brutal fighting returning to areas that had been comparatively quiet, the New York Times reports. From June to November, some 1,300 members of Afghan security forces were killed in Helmand province alone, and a local hospital remained nearly full even after the customary fighting season ended. Many civilians have also been treated at the hospital, including 940 women and children through October. "This year is much worse than previous years," says a medical official. Indeed, over the course of the year, the country has seen some 5,000 security-force deaths, a record, the Times reports.

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Civilian deaths have also hit a record high, and total civilian casualties are poised to pass 10,000 for the year, Reuters reports. The UN says three-quarters of the 3,188 civilians killed through November were killed by insurgents, a figure the Taliban calls "biased and unfounded," Reuters notes. Meanwhile, the country has seen increased corruption and declines in government services since the US departed. "Our own commanders sell our bullets to the Taliban instead of giving them to us, and then they buy a nice house in Lashkar Gah and stay there, leaving the little guys out there to do the fighting," says a wounded police officer. But the Afghan forces are still "holding on," the Times notes, and an Afghan official says 151 Taliban members have been killed in 12 days of fighting near the Pakistani border, the AP reports. (Read more Afghanistan stories.)

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