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In southern Afghanistan, a modest transition

LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan — Hurtling through this southern provincial capital in the back of a military pickup, Afghan army Sgt. Abdul Latif took one hand off his machine gun and pointed to signs Tuesday that foreign troops were still fixtures in the sky and on the ground.

A beige tank passed Latif’s pickup. “British,” he said. An Apache helicopter appeared overhead. “Americans,” he said. “Still here.”

On Wednesday, in a red-carpet ceremony, those foreign troops turned over security control of Helmand province’s largest city to Afghan National Security Forces, part of a scheduled transition of seven Afghan cities or provinces this month. By most measures, Lashkar Gah is the least stable of the seven, with insurgents still thriving on the city’s outskirts.

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