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The Taliban Steps Up Attacks Against Allied Forces in Marjah

MARJAH, Afghanistan (AP) - The Taliban appear to be using the
cover of darkness to slip behind U.S. lines in Marjah.

Marines and Afghan soldiers came under repeated counterattacks
in the Taliban's Helmand province stronghold today. Small, mobiles
teams of insurgents fired rifles, rockets and grenades at the joint
force from the cover of compounds already deemed free of weapons
and explosives.

By midday, at least six large gunbattles were being fought
across the town, too many for helicopter gunships to cover them
all. Troops say the strict rules of engagement aimed at protecting
civilians are making it difficult to use enough firepower to stop
the attacks.

Still, allied officials have reported only two coalition deaths
so far, an American and a Briton killed Saturday, and there have
been no reports of wounds.

Afghan officials say at least 27 insurgents have been killed in
the three-day-old offensive.

Meanwhile, Britain's top military officer says an errant missile
strike that killed 12 civilians, including six children, comes as a
"very serious setback" to effort to win the support of the local
population.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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