Fighting intensifies in Afghanistan amid US withdrawal at the end of August

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Hundreds of Taliban were killed in violent fighting with the Afghan army in various provinces of the country, the government reported Saturday, coinciding with the announcement that the United States will complete its withdrawal from the country at the end of August.

The news from Washington came after US and NATO troops left Bagram Air Base, the center of operations for coalition forces during two decades of fighting the Taliban and their al Qaeda allies.

Over the past 24 hours, more than 300 Taliban fighters have been killed in fighting against government forces, the Defense Ministry said on Saturday.

Many of them succumbed to airstrikes, including an offensive on Saturday before dawn in the southern province of Helmand, the scene of frequent clashes between the two sides.

There was a suspicion that the Afghan forces would suffer difficulties without the air support provided so far by the United States.

“In recent days, the Afghan air force has intensified its attacks on the Taliban hideouts and insurgents have suffered casualties,” Attaullah Afghan, a member of the Helmand provincial council, told AFP.

The Taliban rejected the government’s claims.

Both sides often exaggerate the damage inflicted on the other party and their claims are difficult to verify independently.

Fighting has intensified across the country since the United States began the final withdrawal of its 2,500 remaining troops on May 1.

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