BBC is reporting that Taliban fighters in Afghanistan are using civilians as human shields during military clashes in south Helmand province.
U.S. Marines are in their fifth day of a joint offensive in the Taliban haven of Marjah. They have faced sustained machine-gun fire from fighters hiding in bunkers and in buildings including homes and mosques, the BBC said.
Afghan Gen. Mohiudin Ghori said his soldiers had seen Taliban fighters placing women and children on the roofs of buildings and firing from behind them. They are trying to force civilian casualties by taking them hostage and putting them in the line of fire, the general said.
"Especially in the south of Marjah, the enemy is fighting from compounds where soldiers can very clearly see women or children on the roof or in a second-floor or third-floor window," he is quoted by Associated Press as saying.
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Nato has stressed that the safety of civilians in the areas targeted in the joint Nato and Afghan Operation Moshtarak is its highest priority.
Operation Moshtarak, meaning "together" in the Dari language, is the biggest coalition attack since the Taliban fell in 2001. During this operation, 1,240 families had been displaced and evacuated from Marjah - and all had received aid in the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah.
Allied officials have reported only two coalition deaths so far - one American and one Briton killed on Saturday.