Afghan Forces, Their Numbers Dwindling Sharply, Face a Resurgent Taliban

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KABUL, Afghanistan — Outgunned and surrounded by Taliban fighters in a chronic combat zone of southern Afghanistan, the police officers and soldiers thought they had negotiated passage to safety. They had walked into a trap. In what appears to be one of the worst massacres of Afghan forces in a protracted and forgotten war, at least 100 were killed when the Taliban fighters opened fire on them from all directions as they tried to flee through the agreed-upon retreat route, Afghan officials said Wednesday.

Accounts of the massacre, which happened Tuesday near the southern city of Lashkar Gah in Helmand Province, punctuated a growing crisis in Afghanistan’s armed forces that goes to the heart of their sustainability: They are sustaining enormous casualties from a revitalized Taliban insurgency and are facing increased problems recruiting. Many vacancies go unfilled.

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