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Pentagon: Afghanistan Security Deteriorating

Afghan security forces assess damage after clashes between Taliban fighters and Afghan forces at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Dec. 9, 2015.

The U.S. Defense Department said Tuesday that security in Afghanistan has been deteriorating over recent months. As the United States limits its military engagement, the Taliban has been more successful in launching attacks on Afghan forces.

The Pentagon, in a new assessment for U.S. lawmakers, said Afghan casualties increased 27 percent from January to mid-November this year compared to 2014. It said Kabul's forces have demonstrated a will to fight, but that the country's security is fragile in some regions and deteriorating in others.

"The resilient Taliban-led insurgency," the report said, "remains an enduring threat to U.S., coalition, and Afghan forces, as well as to the Afghan people."

The U.S. currently has 9,800 troops in Afghanistan, some of which are involved in counterterrorism missions. But the U.S. has ended massive military operations in the country that it first started shortly after the 2001 al-Qaida-led terrorist attacks in the United States that killed nearly 3,000 people.

The Defense Department report said security is threatened in Afghanistan by numerous insurgent and extremist networks, chiefly the Taliban and the Haqqani Network, and to a lesser extent by al-Qaida fighters and an Islamic State affiliate that is fighting the Taliban.

The Pentagon concluded that the Afghan security forces’ "performance over the entire fighting season and the last six months has been uneven and mixed."