More From Marjah

February 14, 2010

The death toll now stands at 12 civilians: Nato heavily telegraphed its intention to invade Marjah and Nad Ali, hoping to minimise civilian casualties. A Nato statement said the rockets that destroyed a house in Nad Ali landed 300 metres off target. They had been fired by a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System – a system that, according to several defence websites, is used principally by US marines.

The Taliban have, of course, strategically retreated: The army said its air and ground assault – involving up to 1,500 Coldstream and Grenadier Guards, as well as troops from the Household Cavalry and the Royal Welsh regiment and nearly equal numbers of Afghan soldiers – had still not encountered major opposition. A spokesman said the Taliban standard had been replaced by an Afghan flag over a village in the Chah triangle.

And the Challenge Anika style half-cocked reconstruction begins: The army spokesman said the next stage – “hot stabilisation” – would begin soon. Reconstruction equipment being brought in includes box sets for 20 schools, solar lights, mosque broadcast sets and replacement culvert pipes. Recruitment of working parties would begin within days, with cash being made available for up to 37 teams of local labourers to start repairing roads.

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