Marjah (Afghanistan), Feb.17 (ANI): Taliban fighters are increasingly using civilians as human shields in the assault on the southern town of Marjah, according to an Afghan official.
The claim came as military squads resumed painstaking house-to-house searches in the Taliban stronghold as part of Operation Moshtarak.
About 15,000 NATO and Afghan troops are taking part in the offensive around Marjah, which has an estimated 80,000 inhabitants and was the largest town in southern Helmand province under Taliban control.
NATO hopes to rush in aid and public services as soon as the town is secured to try to win the loyalty of the population.
With the assault in its fifth day, insurgents are firing at Afghan troops from inside or next to compounds where women and children appear to have been ordered to stand on a roof or in a window, the Daily Express quoted General Mohiudin Ghori, the brigade commander for Afghan troops in Marjah, as saying.
The Marjah offensive is the biggest joint operation since the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan and is a major test of a new Nato strategy to focus on protecting civilians, rather than killing insurgents. (ANI)