The United States may be withdrawing its combat troops from Afghanistan but that does not mean the war is ending. To the contrary as Hamid Shalizi of Reuters reports:

No longer pinned down by U.S. air cover, Taliban fighters are attacking Afghan military posts in larger numbers with the aim of taking and holding ground, a shift from the hit-and-run strikes with posses of gunmen, explosives and suicide bombers.

As the intensity of the fighting increases, the Afghan forces will be counting increasingly on air power

"Airpower by the foreign troops is the key component to this battle and we have lost many men simply because we couldn't ask our foreign partners for air strikes," said a senior Afghan general who asked not to be named.

The fight has become, if anything, more desperate.

Struggling to hold the insurgents back, the riposte from commanders of the Afghan security forces has been clear: across the country, they are now telling their men to kill captured Taliban fighters instead of taking prisoners.

It seems to be a universal rule: When the Americans leave, things get worse.

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