After a campaign to publicize an invasion of Marjah, Afghanistan during which most of the Taliban left, coalition forces have moved in and secured a majority of the city only hours after invading. “There were clashes as more than 15,000 US, UK and Afghan troops swept into the Helmand areas of Marjah and Nad Ali in a bid to secure government control. The Afghan Army said 70% of Marjah had been cleared, while a UK commander said 11 Taliban bases had been captured.
A Taliban commander reportedly said his men were retreating to spare civilians. Operation Moshtarak – which means ‘together’ in the local Dari language – is being led by the US Marine Corps, supported by 4,000 British troops, with Canadians, Danes and Estonians. The BBC’s Frank Gardner, with Nato forces at Kandahar airbase, says the test of the operation’s success will not be on the battlefield. It all depends on whether the coalition can hold the ground and bring lasting security and good governance to the population of central Helmand. Five members of the Taliban were killed and two arrested in the opening stages of the assault, Afghan officials said. Afghan President Hamid Karzai warned troops to avoid civilian casualties, according to AFP news agency.”