Taliban: We Still Control Marjah

Insurgents deny NATO's claims of early success
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 13, 2010 6:27 AM CST
A US Marine commander gives a final briefing to Marines and Afghan troops before "Operation Moshtarak" in an undisclosed place, 360 miles southwest of Kabul, early Saturday, Feb. 13, 2010.   ((AP Photo/U.S. Department of State via APTN))
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(Newser) – A Taliban spokesman says Afghan insurgents are still in control of the southern town of Marjah amid ongoing fighting with NATO and Afghan forces. Spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said by phone today that Taliban fighters are holding their ground, and that Afghan government claims of 20 dead Taliban fighters were exaggerated. He put the number at two Taliban fighters killed and two wounded, but declined to say how many fighters the Taliban have in the area.

Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, NATO commander of forces in southern Afghanistan, claimed early success, saying that Afghan and coalition troops, aided by 60 helicopters, made a "successful insertion" into Marjah without incurring any casualties. He said the operation was going "without a hitch." Troops recovered Kalashnikov rifles, heavy machine guns and grenades from 11 insurgents captured so far. The ground advance into Marjah was slowed by extensive fields of mines, homemade bombs, and booby traps as Marine infantry crossed a major canal into the town's northern entrance.

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