U.S. Marines "kill 400 Taliban" in Afghan operation
KABUL (Reuters) - U.S. Marines have killed more than 400 Taliban since they began an operation to seize a district in southern Afghanistan in May, their commander said on Wednesday.
A fighting force of some 2,200 U.S. Marines deployed to Afghanistan earlier this year to make up for shortfalls in troops that Washington failed to persuade other NATO allies to fill.
The Marines moved into Garmsir district, in the southern province of Helmand, in late April, taking up positions east of the river that cuts through the desert region, and in early May began a fierce fight to push Taliban militants west and south.
"The Taliban proved that they wanted to fight for Garmsir and we took the fight to them and inflicted very serious casualties," Colonel Peter Petronzio, the U.S. Marine commander in Afghanistan, told a news conference.
Petronzio said his force was "a little too busy to count" Taliban dead, but the Afghan governor of Helmand, he said "believes the number is somewhere beyond 400 and I'm confident that his number is a fairly correct."
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