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U.S. Troops Leave Afghan Outposts, Still Facing Fire

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At www.nytimes.com


Afghanistan Army soldiers and their American counterparts destroyed a Taliban firing position in a village in Kandahar Province
(image by Bryan Denton for The New York Times)

When the last American soldiers to occupy this squat, lonely outpost in southern Afghanistan pulled out this week, they left the same way earlier units had arrived: ready for a fight. The Americans knew they would be most vulnerable in their final hours after taking down their surveillance and early-warning systems. The Taliban knew it, too, and intelligence reports indicated that they had been working with sympathetic villagers to strike at the departing soldiers. Two days earlier, the militants made a test run against the outpost, taking the rare step of directly engaging it in a firefight, albeit a brief one, soon after the first radio antennas came down.

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