Afghans Flee as Marjah Offensive Sours

US hasn't done a good job clearing or holding
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 17, 2010 2:36 PM CDT
Afghans Flee as Marjah Offensive Sours
Mark Sedwill, center, NATO senior civilian representative in Afghanistan, talks to locals in Marjah.   (AP Photo/Abdul Khaleq)

Remember the big American military “clear and hold” operation in Marjah, Afghanistan? It ain't going so well. More than 150 families have fled the area, and some refugees tell the New York Times the Taliban is still running rampant, and the US is unable to protect the local population. “The Taliban are everywhere, they are like scorpions under every stone,” says one farmer. They've hidden amongst the populace, killing Afghans who cooperate with the Americans.

“We know who the Taliban are,” says another farmer. “But we cannot stand against them.” The US had expected to quickly clear the area of militants, then focus on holding it. Months later, however, troops have never truly cleared the place, and with the poppy harvest over, firefights have resumed in earnest. “I am sure if I stay in Marjah I will be killed one day,” said one farmer, “either by the Taliban, or the Americans.” (Read more Marjah stories.)

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