US Blocks Escape Routes as Helmand Attack Looms

Taliban Dismisses Significance of Raid

by Jason Ditz, February 11, 2010

With NATO already urging civilians to “stay put” during the invasion of the Marjah region of Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, the US is making it virtually impossible for anyone to leave, as Marines have now effectively circled the area.

The units are said to be in foxholes all along the edge of the town, Taliban forces have been firing mortars at the troops as officials vow a quick victory and the installation of a Karzai appointee as the new governor.

With US troops bragging about the planned invasion for a solid month, the Taliban has had plenty of time to dig in and plant explosives around the town. Commanders say they intend to “wait out” the NATO forces.

No date has been set for the start of the invasion, but officials say it will be the single largest operation in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion. Officials are also saying that after the month of lead time, it is the “largest minefield that NATO has ever faced.”

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