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Operation Moshtarak day-by-day

Map of Operation Moshtarak in Afghanistan

DAY 1: NAD ALI

image of Nad Ali

British troops seize explosives cache in Helmand - town just north of Nad Ali

DAY 3: OVERVIEW

image of Overview

Troops begin their mission

DAY 2: CIVILIAN DEATHS

image of civilian deaths

DAY 4: MARJAH COMMANDERS VISIT

image of marjah commanders visit

Nato commanders visit Marjah amid heavy security

DAY 7: UNDER ATTACK

image of marjah

Taliban fighters put up resistance in Marjah

DAY 3: BRIDGE BUILDING

image of nad ali and uk troops

UK troops meet locals to provide reassurance

American, British and Afghan troops have launched the largest offensive in Afghanistan since the Taliban were overthrown in 2001.

We trace the major events of Operation Moshtarak - meaning "together" in Dari - as Nato and the Kabul government try to oust the Taliban from strongholds in southern Helmand province.

DAY 6: 18 FEBRUARY

Taliban militants battling coalition troops in Marjah, Afghanistan, are running out of ammunition, Nato officials say.

A BBC correspondent in Kandahar says that from eavesdropping on Taliban communications, Nato understands militants have called for support.

US marines with 1/3 marine Charlie Company walk along poppy field irrigation canals in Trikh Nawar
Troops are due to push into south-west Marjah in the coming days

Nato officers told BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner in Kandahar that the resistance they were currently encountering was coming from small, disjointed but determined groups of fighters.

In the next few days, US Marines and Afghan government troops are due to push into south-west Marjah, which is believed to be an insurgent stronghold.

But the head of the council for tribal elders in Helmand told BBC Pashto that the long-term security of the area depended on locals being involved in policing.

He added that the people of Helmand felt isolated from Afghanistan's central government.

DAY 5: 17 FEBRUARY

An Afghan general says Taliban militants are increasingly using civilians as "human shields" as they battle against a joint Afghan-Nato offensive.

US Marine in Marjah, 17 Feb
US Marines have come under heavy fire in Marjah

Gen Mohiudin Ghori said his soldiers had seen Taliban fighters placing women and children on the roofs of buildings and firing from behind them.

US Marines fighting to take the Taliban haven of Marjah have had to call in air support as they come under heavy fire.

They are facing sustained machine-gun fire from fighters hiding in bunkers and in buildings including homes and mosques.

A local journalist based in Lashkar Gah also told BBC Pashto that Taliban fighters remained in many residential areas of Marjah and were defending their positions with heavy weapons.

"Whenever they launch an attack, the Taliban take refuge in civilians' homes," Jawad Dawari said.

DAY 4: 16 FEBRUARY

The commander of British forces in southern Afghanistan says a missile that struck an Afghan house killing 12 people on13 February hit its intended target.

US soldiers sit in an area west of Lashkar Gah in Helmand, Afghanistan, 16 February 2010
While British and Afghan troops were advancing, US progress was hampered

Maj Gen Nick Carter says initial Nato reports that the missiles had landed about 300 metres off their intended target were due to "the fog of war".

US forces face some resistance around the Taliban haven of Marjah, with their progress being hampered by sniper fire and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in some areas.

British and Afghan troops are reported to be advancing more swiftly in the nearby district of Nad Ali.

Meanwhile, officials say the Taliban's top military commander and leading strategist, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, has been captured in a joint US-Pakistani operation in Karachi.

DAY 3: 15 FEBRUARY

US marines and Afghan troops continue to meet resistance in Marjah.

A column of US vehicles halted in Marjah - 15 February 2010

In the north of the city an armoured column is reported to come under fire from several sniper teams while marines try unsuccessfully to clear Taliban fighters from a bazaar in the centre of the city.

The situation for the British and Afghan troops further north, in Nad Ali, now appears to be quieter and more stable than in Marjah, says the BBC's security correspondent, Frank Gardner, in Kandahar.

Afghan Brig Gen Sher Mohammad Zazai says coalition troops have largely contained the insurgents in Marjah and Nad Ali.

Nearly 1,000 families displaced by the fighting have arrived in Helmand's capital, Lashkar Gah, a provincial official says.

DAY 2: 14 FEBRUARY

Twelve Afghan civilians are killed in Marjah when Nato rockets hit their house.

Officials say two rockets fired at insurgents veered off course.

Afghan elders at a meeting with Nato troops - undated Ministry of Defence photo

The coalition forces in Marjah report sniper fire and a large number of home-made bombs, or IEDs.

US officials say their troops are in the "majority" of the city but are beginning to meet more determined Taliban resistance in some areas.

The Red Cross sets up a first aid centre in Marjah and says it has treated dozens of residents injured in the fighting.

Nato and Afghan officers begin to hold meetings with tribal leaders, as part of plans to bring in hundreds of Afghan police in the coming days to help secure the captured areas and restore government rule.

DAY 1: 13 FEBRUARY

More than 15,000 US, UK and Afghan troops are dropped by helicopter in Marjah and Nad Ali in the early morning as Operation Moshtarak begins.

US and Afghan troops in Marjah come under sporadic rocket fire and heavy machine-gun fire. One US marine is killed by gunfire, but Nato officials say the troops make good progress.

UK troops in Nad Ali district, Helmand province, Afghanistan. Ministry of Defence photo - 13 February 2010

A British soldier is killed by an explosion in Nad Ali, although military officials say overall resistance from the Taliban there is light.

Taliban commanders say they have pulled back to avoid civilian casualties.

Many residents have also fled the area, heeding Nato pamphlets that warned of the coming offensive.



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