Helmand Scene

Where peace talks bring on Taliban bullets

From the district-office roof, an Afghan Special Forces (ASF) team stared into the dark that had fallen over Sangin's mud compounds. They were pulling overnight guard duty for a peace-and-reconciliation meeting and listening to a captured Taliban radio. Ranking officer Bashir swept a forearm against the starry horizon.

"They are close."

He turned up the volume. Taliban fighters were discussing safe areas, movements, a car bomb, who would bring the blankets. It was a chilly night.

"Mostly it is propaganda," said Bashir. His men remained vigilant.

It had been a long day. That morning, they had driven from Lashkar Gah, the...

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