Taliban Using Human Shields in Marjah
Troops strive to avoid civilian casualties, take city center
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 17, 2010 6:44 AM CST
US Marines warm themselves by a fire in a compound in the early morning in Marjah in Afghanistan's Helmand province on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2010.   (David Guttenfelder)
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(Newser) – Taliban fighters in Marjah are increasingly using civilians as human shields, as they try to thwart NATO's house-to-house searches, according to the top Afghan general in the offensive. “The enemy is fighting from compounds where soldiers can very clearly see women or children on the roof or in a second-floor or third-floor window,” Gen. Mohiudin Ghori tells the AP. “They are trying to get us to fire on them and kill the civilians.”

Soldiers have had to slow their advance to a crawl to avoid civilian casualties, Ghori said. And there have been deaths despite the caution; an errant missile strike killed 12 people on the outskirts of town earlier this week, half of them children. But there has been some progress. US and Afghan troops have seized the ruins of the town’s old government center, and a former police station. “The government will return to Marjah, and in short order,” one marine commander predicted.