KABUL: Hundreds of Taliban fighters were killed in fierce battles with government forces across several provinces of Afghanistan, officials said Saturday, as Washington announced it would finish withdrawing its troops from the country by the end of August. Washington”s announcement came after all US and NATO troops vacated their main Bagram Air Base, from where the coalition forces led operations for two decades against the Taliban and their Al-Qaeda allies. Over the past 24 hours, more than 300 Taliban fighters were killed in fighting with government forces, the Ministry of Defence said Saturday. Scores were killed in air strikes, including a pre-dawn assault on Saturday, in the southern province of Helmand, where the insurgents and government troops have regularly clashed. There have been fears that Afghan forces would struggle without the air support that the United States has provided. “In recent days, the Afghan air force has intensified its air strikes against the Taliban hideouts and the insurgents have suffered casualties,” Attaullah Afghan, a member of Helmand provincial council, told media. The Taliban rejected the government”s claims. Both sides often exaggerate each other”s casualties and their claims are difficult to independently verify.