U.S. Marines are planning a massive operation within days to take Marjah depite large number of civilians, in the first major show of force since Obama ordered 30,000 extra troops.
The town, a network of desert irrigation canals constructed decades ago under a U.S.-funded development plan, is a place where the Taliban administers a government and controls a comparatively large population of 75,000 to 100,000 people.
The district governor of Marjah, Haji Zair, who has been able to visit but cannot live in the Taliban-held town, claims residents repeatedly beg him to bring foreign and Afghan troops.
"Large numbers of (Taliban) are in Marjah. The people of Marjah are under the control and pressure of the Taliban," he said.
Brigadier General Mohayedin Ghori, commander of an Afghan brigade that will participate in the operation, said Marjah has no police.
He claims that if tehre were anyone with uniform was a Taliban member.
Under the new NATO strategy of commander General Stanley McChrystal, the main goal of U.S. and allied troops is to "secure population centres" so that the Afghan government can move in.
Although commanders planning the operation do not disclose the size of the forces that will be involved, taking Marjah will be one of NATO's biggest operations ever in Afghanistan, and by far the biggest for Afghan troops since the war started in 2001.
The Marines have made little secret of their intention to take the town, which Nicholson said should motivate some inside it to begin contemplating joining the government.
"Because of the inevitability of the operation ... people have decided that they want to talk," he said. "There's a lot of influential people ... they don't want to be on the wrong side of this operation when it flips."
"When the Afghan flag's flying over Marjah they don't want to be seen as Taliban sympathisers or pariahs, they still want to be seen as people of import," he said.
Thousands of civilians have been killed in U.S.-led foreign troops' attack since U.S. invasion in Afghanistan, U.N. said.
ReutersLast Mod: 17 Şubat 2010, 20:11