Operation Moshtarak Launched Helmand Province Afghanistan

Operation Moshtarak launched today in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Details here as available.

The Telegraph reports:

The first wave of choppers has landed inside Marjah. The operation has
begun,” said Capt Joshua Winfrey, commander of Lima Company, 3rd
Battalion, 6th Marines, which was at the forefront of the attack.

Nato helicopters dropped leaflets on the town and surrounding area – which has
an estimated total population of 125,000 – warning people to remain indoors
once the offensive began.

Radio broadcast messages telling people that the Afghan and international
troops had come to rid their area of insurgents and that no civilians would
be harmed.

From the New York Times:

The force of about 6,000 Marines and soldiers — a majority of them Afghan — began moving into the city and environs before dawn.

Marines and soldiers marched into the area, several hundred more
swooped out of the sky in helicopters into Marja itself. There did not
appear to be any resistance, although a ground assault with more
soldiers concentrated within the city was expected to begin within

The American, Afghan and British troops began moving into Marja
before first light, making their way through a broad, flat area
crisscrossed by irrigation canals and scattered with opium factories as
well as, in all likelihood, several hundred hidden bombs.

and Afghan commanders said they expected the heavy fighting to be over
in a number of days. At that point, the commanders say, the overriding
purpose of the campaign will take shape, when they bring in a fully
formed Afghan government and security force that can hold the city so
that the Taliban cannot return.

From the Washington Times:

Marine commanders say they expect between 400 to 1,000 insurgents to be
holed up inside this southern Afghan town of 80,000 people in Helmand
province, including more than 100 foreign fighters. Marjah is the
biggest southern town under Taliban control and the linchpin of the
militants’ logistical and opium-smuggling network.

The helicopter assault was preceded by illumination flares which were
fired over the town about 2 a.m. In the pitch darkness of a moonless
night, the roar of helicopters could be heard overhead, flying in
assault troops from multiple locations.

The white flash of Hellfire and Tow missiles could be seen
exploding over the town as flares illuminated the darkness to help
assault troops spot targets in the town.

Related and Background:

Taliban Prevents Marjah Families from Leaving ahead of Operation Moshtarak

Operation Moshtarak International Defensive: Overwhelming Forces