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Deadly Afghanistan attack: It wasn't just the Taliban

The Taliban combined with an Al Qaeda-linked militant group and others to kill eight US soldiers in northeastern Afghanistan Sunday. The Taliban's flexibility is a major threat to US forces.

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During a lull in a firefight Sunday with taliban militants in Afghanistan's Helmand province, Afghan Army local commander Mohammed Hussein, left, stands with Marine squad leader Sgt. Matthew Duquette, of Warrenville, Ill..

Brennan Linsley/AP

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The major ground assault by militants that killed eight US soldiers in Afghanistan this weekend illustrates nimble cooperation between the Taliban and smaller groups, according to NATO and regional security analysts. The ability of this militant medley to plug-and-play their fighters into larger forces, then disperse again into smaller groups, represents a major challenge to the US-led coalition.

"I think not enough credit is given that these groups operate together. I am not saying these guys have a hierarchal structural command like the US military does. But they do operate together when required," says Bill Roggio, managing editor of The Long War Journal.

The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack on a pair of remote US military outposts in the Kamdesh district of Nuristan Province, located in northeastern Afghanistan. But NATO spokesman Brig. Gen. Eric Tremblay told the Associated Press that the fighters also included tribal militias and forces under Al Qaeda-linked commander in Pakistan, Siraj Haqqani. (Read more about the Haqqani network here.)

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