Heavy clashes break out between Talibans and Afghan Forces over control of Helmand province

KABUL: Afghan officials have expressed concerned over what they described as "the rapid advance of the Taliban" in Helmand Province and warned several areas in the southern province may fall to the militant group. The deputy governor wrote that international forces don't assist Afghan government troops and that they only watch the situation. Abdulhai Akhunzada, a lawmaker from Helmand, backed the deputy governor's concerns, saying "intense fighting is going on right now in five districts" of Helmand, with the Taliban rapidly advancing there. Dawlat Waziri said on December 20 that more than 150 Taliban fighters were killed in Helmand in the past 24 hours. Waziri said 11 government soldiers were also killed in the clashes. The moral is high among government troops, he said. Violence has increased sharply across Afghanistan since the U.S.-led military coalition formally ended its combat mission last year. The coalition has left a contingent of about 12,000 NATO troops to train and assist Afghan forces fighting the Taliban-led insurgency.(Afghanistan News)