A new article in tonight’s Independent details the sort of aggressive tactics the US Marines in Helmand Province’s restive Sangin District have been using, with large scale missile strikes and strafing runs by helicopter gunships the order of the day.
The Marines detail daily fights and mortar strikes against “hidden” Taliban positions, contrasted with years of British Army presence in the region which sought to avoid large scale conflict and keep the civilian population more or less accepting of the NATO occupation.
Though the comments are largely laudatory from military officials they must inevitably draw into question reports from last week that the Marines were so committed to avoiding civilian deaths that they refuse to even investigate reports of civilian killings in Sangin, assuming they must all be lies.
The aggressive tactics on display in Sangin are exactly the sort that would cause civilian casualties, and this makes the anger amongst locals for their refusal to even investigate such charges all the more understandable. The commander in the district said it was obvious all deaths were the Taliban’s fault and that any tribal elder who claimed the Marines killed a civilian was obviously working for the Taliban.
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