#AceNewsServices – EditorsPost:Dec.31: The smoke from mortar and rocket attacks rises from the mountains of Dangam in the remote eastern border region of Afghanistan as Taliban insurgents battle government forces in a bid to establish a permanent presence now that the American soldiers who led the fight here for more than a decade have left officials reported to AP.
‘ Taliban move into Dangam Mountains as American Forces leave Country ‘
Heavy fighting has been raging for almost three weeks, with wave after wave of Taliban militants assaulting this picturesque but poverty-stricken district of Kunar province just four kilometres (2.5 miles) from the border with Pakistan, officials and residents said.
The U.S.-led international effort to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban officially shifts from a combat to a training band support mission Wednesday, with Afghan forces assuming full responsibility for security nationwide on New Year’s Day. A residual force of 10,800 Americans and almost 3,000 NATO soldiers will remain, under the banner of a new mission called Resolute Support.
Over the last 18 months, U.S. and NATO forces have been closing their bases across the country, taking their battlefield prowess, air support and medical evacuation assets with them.
The war is meanwhile creeping into urban and residential areas, putting ordinary people at greater risk. Civilian casualties look set to hit 10,000 in 2014, the highest yearly total of dead and wounded since the U.N. began keeping records in 2008. More than 75 percent of the deaths and injuries are caused by Taliban attacks, according to the U.N.
There are few places where Afghan forces have been tested as ferociously as in Dangam, a forested valley where life has changed little for centuries.
The fighting began when local residents decided they had had enough of the Taliban, who had set up a “shadow” administration and were attempting to take control of the valley, according to Gen. Mohammad Zaman Waziri, Afghan army corps commander for eastern Afghanistan.
The Afghan army came to help, he said, and fighting has been going on ever since.