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Civilian deaths mounting in Marjah offensive

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Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

(Read caption) An Afghan soldier speaks during a flag raising ceremony in the town of Marjah in Nad Ali district of Helmand province Sunday.

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A daily summary of global reports on security issues.

The civilian death toll has risen to at least 15 in the NATO coalition assault on the Taliban stronghold of Marjah, the largest offensive since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and one governed by new rules of engagement intended to strengthen Afghan support by limiting civilian casualties.

The NATO and Afghan Army troops appeared to be making slower progress than commanders had hoped. But the new strategy was apparent in their efforts to work with the local population and win their support.

NATO forces said Tuesday that three civilians had been killed in separate incidents – two when they were shot as they approached NATO soldiers after ignoring warnings to stop, while a third was caught in crossfire between NATO forces and insurgents – reports the Associated Press. The three are in addition to 12 civilians who died Sunday in a US airstrike in a house outside of Marjah.

An Afghan human rights organization has claimed that 19 civilians have been killed, though the report could not be verified and it was unknown who was to blame for the deaths, reports the AP, while The Guardian reports there have been 20 civilian deaths.

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