Afghan villagers flee to escape assault

US Marines walking in a column as they enter Marjah in Helmand province yesterday ap

As military helicopters thundered through the sky over the Afghan township of Marjah yesterday morning, villagers cowered down below in their mud-brick huts.

About 60 helicopters took part in the assault, Helmand Governor Mohammad Gulab Mangal said, dropping soldiers into what officials say is the last Taliban bastion in the southern province.

Spooky green-tinged video footage shot through military night-vision goggles showed US soldiers rushing off Chinook gunships and into the dark folds of Marjah.

But despite being told in leaflets dropped by helicopters – and by Taliban embedded in the town – to stay put, some civilians were still leaving as the battle commenced.

The offensive is aimed at establishing Afghan government authority over the biggest southern town under militant control.

 

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