Los Angeles Times

How the Taliban gained the upper hand in a key province in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan _It was the deadliest incident involving U.S. troops in Afghanistan this year: An armored U.S. military vehicle struck a roadside bomb planted by the Taliban outside the city of Ghazni on Tuesday, killing three service members.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric Michael Emond of Brush Prairie, Wash., Army Capt. Andrew Patrick Ross of Lexington, Va., and Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan J. Elchin of Hookstown, Pa., were elite special operations troops deployed to what has become one of the most intense theaters of fighting in the 18th year of the war.

The city is the capital of the rugged province that has the same name and has long

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