(IRIN) – Intensifying conflict in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province has forced more than 150 schools to close, leaving about 100,000 students vulnerable to recruitment by the Taliban. For about two months, a near-continuous battle has been raging between government forces and the Taliban for control of Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital that the insurgent group nearly seized in October. Thousands of extra soldiers have since been deployed, but they have succeeded in pushing the Taliban only 17 kilometres from the city centre.