Major push underway in Afghanistan

Insurgent sniper teams battled U.S. Marines and Afghan troops across the Taliban haven of Marjah, as several major gunbattles erupted across the town Monday on the third day of a major offensive to reclaim the extremist southern heartland.

Multiple firefights in different locations were taxing the ability of the coalition forces to provide enough air support to help cover the advance as NATO forces forged deeper through town, moving through suspected insurgent neighborhoods, the U.S. Marines said.

In the northern part of Marjah, an armored column came under fire from at least three separate sniper teams, slowing down its progress. One of the teams came within 154 feet (50 meters) and started firing.

Troops braced for the estimated 2.5-mile (4-kilometer) march to link up with U.S. and Afghan troops who had been airdropped into town. A day earlier, small squads of Taliban snipers initiated several gunbattles throughout the day in an attempt to draw coalition forces into a larger ambush.

The massive offensive involving some 15,000 U.S., Afghan, British troops is the biggest joint operation since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan.

However, the mission faced a setback on Sunday when two U.S. rockets slammed into a home outside Marjah, killing 12 civilians. NATO said Monday that the rockets missed their target by about 600 meters (yards), or about a third of a mile. NATO had earlier said the rockets missed their target by just 300 meters (yards).

Afghan Internior Minister Atmar told reporters at a briefing Sunday in Lashkar Gar that nine civilians and two or three insurgents were among those killed.

The civilian deaths were a major blow to NATO and Afghan efforts to win the support of residents in the Marjah area, a Taliban logistical center and a base for their lucrative opium trade that finances the insurgency. Before the offensive began Saturday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai had pleaded for the Afghan and foreign commanders to be “seriously careful for the safety of civilians.”

The top NATO commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, apologized to President Hamid Karzai for “this tragic loss of life” and suspended use of the sophisticated HIMARS system pending “a thorough review of this incident,” NATO said.

The rockets were fired by a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, at insurgents who attacked U.S. and Afghan forces, wounding one American and one Afghan, NATO said in a statement. Instead, the projectiles veered 300 yards (meters) off target and blasted a house in the Nad Ali district, which includes Marjah, NATO added.

Karzai’s spokesman Waheed Omar said the president “is very upset about what happened” and has been “very seriously conveying his message” of restraint “again and again.”

Inside Marjah, sporadic firefights increased by midday as small sniper teams engaged U.S. Marines in heavy gunfire.

“Literally every time we stand up, we take rounds,” warned one Marine over the radio.

Marines said their ability to fight back has been tightly constrained by strict new rules of engagement that make their job more difficult and dangerous. Under the rules, troops cannot fire at people unless they commit a hostile act or show hostile intent.

“I understand the reason behind it, but it’s so hard to fight a war like this,” said Lance Corp. Travis Anderson, 20, from Altoona, Iowa. “They’re using our rules of engagement against us,” he said, stating that his platoon had repeatedly seen men dropping their guns into ditches before walking away to melt among civilians.

Allied officials have reported two coalition deaths so far — one American and one Briton, who were both killed Saturday. Afghan officials said at least 27 insurgents have been killed in the offensive.

In unrelated incidents in southern Afghanistan, NATO said two service members died Sunday — one from small-arms fire and the other from a roadside bomb explosion. The international force did not disclose their nationalities, but the British defense ministry reported that a British soldier died Sunday of wounds suffered in an explosion.

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  1. silentSCREAM

    Simply put. “Push by push” to cure planet earth of the Islamic disease… if it takes till the end of time and the destruction of planet earth in the process.

    Listen carefully to the war hawks sermon. The underling contempt oozes forth as their words depreciate the cultural value of all except themselves. Why Islam? Because it stands in the way of their ‘resolve’ to fulfill biblical prophecy… in their time. Don’t forget. Don’t ever forget. The end is near. The end is ALWAYS near.

  2. bryan mcclellan

    Opium or window dressing Griff.
    I’m up to my gills in this Waterworld of half assed half asses attempting to slowly drown the masses.

    My dog could pass this eye test sans her acute sense of smell which no doubt in like kind has been rendered over olfactory bounds.

  3. griff

    The rabbit hole of politics runs deep and cold, with many a dark, dank turn.

    Avoid the meddlesome roots, and trudge on, in lockstep lullabye.

    Kevin Costner fan?

  4. bryan mcclellan

    Agreed, the more the diversity the less to fight about , unless your own skin doesn’t fit so well.

    Seems we’ve lost our scalps to find ourselves the thieves..

  5. issodhos

    “Simply put. “Push by push” to cure planet earth of the Islamic disease”

    Hmmm…. Must be why we are building Muslim armies in Iraq and Afghanistan. Must be why we sided with Muslims in the Balkans against the Christian Serbs. Hmmm…. pecular way to eliminate the “Islamic disease”, silentScream.:-)

  6. silentSCREAM

    Muddied waters to obscure that which if too obvious would be widely condemned as reprehensible. There’s something to be said for subtlety. This is why a continuing “war on terror” is so necessary. It provides cover for the advancing term objective – absolute control throughout the mystical storyland.

  7. almandine

    A simple census of Muslims worldwide dispels any notion that they are being systematically, but hiddenly, eliminated by the west. 30 years ago Europe, especially England, reflected sociocultural norms much like those in the US then and today. Now, Sharia law is being practiced in many places outside the middle east, with even limited application in the UK. Similarly, 30 years ago there were few mosques in the US, but now they number in the 10’s if not hundreds.

    The goal of muslims is political, not religious, and it’s to rule the world. Creeping control is their modus operandi… the only subterfuge is that it is being downplayed as a force to be reckoned with.

    One question we might ask is, “why are we rolling over so that their takeover is so easy?”

  8. silentSCREAM

    I did not mean to suggest that there’s a covert genocide in the works. I was speaking more in terms of an abstract… a neutralization campaign.

    I am fully aware of the Muslim extensions beyond their historic presence. This is what their Christian counterparts in the West find so unsettling.

    The goal of muslims is political, not religious

    I’m afraid I have to disagree. There are two adversarial forces at odds. And they are both obsessed with “spreading the word” a.k.a. global domination… and both are driven by their spiritual ties to ancient legends.

    If we could somehow purge mankind of his judgmental belief in the gods, the world would be a much better place for all concerned.

  9. almandine

    The notion that proselytizing is tantamount to global (or other) domination bears a look-see, at least from a comparative theology perspective. Last I heard, shedding one’s Christian faith for either atheism, agnosticism, or conversion did not demand death at the hands of the remaining faithful. Neither, I believe, do any of Christ’s purported words suggest that atonement for sins requires the extreme corporal punishments of the sort attributed to Muhammed. Missionaries abound in the one faith, whereas suicide bombers populate the other. I have a hard time finding the balance in such comparisons.

    Perhaps if we can purge judgmental beliefs about our world order we can slide right on into a modern-day Solipsism as the means by which to ignore all things with which we disagree.

  10. Klaus Hergeschimmer

    “The goal of muslims is political, not religious, and it’s to rule the world”.

    …Yes, the same politcal power that AIPAC used to get the US into Iraq. The Likud’niks of the ilk who killed their own prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin. Rabin was assassinated by right-wing Israeli radical Yigal Amir, who was opposed to Rabin’s signing of the Oslo Accords.

    An entire nation taken to war & occupation to quench the love tryst between radical Likud’niks and PNAC Neo-Klowns sick ambitions to make the middle east ‘in Amerikas’ image.

    Our government rolled over very easy for PNAC and AIPAC…

  11. Kent.Shaw

    “However, the mission faced a setback on Sunday when two U.S. rockets slammed into a home outside Marjah, killing 12 civilians. NATO said Monday that the rockets missed their target by about 600 meters (yards), or about a third of a mile. NATO had earlier said the rockets missed their target by just 300 meters (yards).”

    Bullshit. These are precision guided weapons. They hit their intended target.