August 12, 2009 in Nation/World

Marines launch assault in southern Afghanistan

Alfred De Montesquiou Associated Press

Fatalities in August

Taliban militants killed three American troops in volatile southern Afghanistan, U.S. military authorities said Tuesday. The latest U.S. deaths brought to at least 18 the number of American soldiers who have died in August in Afghanistan.

DAHANEH, Afghanistan – Helicopter-borne U.S. Marines backed by Harrier jets stormed into a strategic Taliban-held town in southern Afghanistan before dawn today, battling to gain control of the area ahead of next week’s presidential elections.

Associated Press journalists traveling with the first wave said Marines were met with small arms, mortar and rocket propelled grenade fire as they flew in helicopters over Taliban lines and dropped into the town.

Fighting was still under way hours later.

Other Marines met heavy resistance as they fought to seize control of the mountains surrounding Dahaneh in the southern province of Helmand. Another convoy of Marines rolled into the town despite roadside bomb attacks and gunfire.

It was the first time NATO troops had entered Dahaneh, which has been under Taliban control for years.

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