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Civilians killed in NATO assault in Afghanistan
Kabul, Feb 15 (IANS/Agencies):
Published on 16 Feb. 2010 12:24 AM IST
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At least 12 civilians were killed during a NATO forces’ offensive in southern Afghanistan, an official said. The victims died after a rocket hit their house late Sunday, the second day of Operation Moshtarak, which is seeking to wrest control of Marjah and neighbouring areas in southern Helmand province. The assault, one of NATO forces’ biggest against the Taliban since the Afghan war began in 2001, is mainly centred on Helmand province. It is seen as the first test of US President Barack Obama’s 30,000 troop surge to seize insurgent-held areas ahead of a planned 2011 troop withdrawal. “There were bombardments in parts of Marjah and as a result 12 Taliban have been killed,” Dawud Ahmadi, a spokesman for the provincial governor of Helmand, told reporters. The offensive began Saturday with waves of helicopters ferrying troops into Marjah and the nearby Nad Ali district. US marines came under intense fire in the heart of Marjah. The offensive has been flagged for weeks, to persuade Taliban fighters to leave so the region so it can be taken without major damage or loss of civilian life. The NATO-led force said that General Stanley McChrystal, the US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, had apologised to Afghan president Hamid Karzai over the civilian deaths.

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