(WASHINGTON) -- The top U.S. Marine commander in southern Afghanistan said Tuesday that almost 10 months after the military offensive to take the key town of Marjah concluded, the fight against the Taliban there is "essentially over." Major General Richard Mills told Pentagon reporters via videoconference that Taliban fighters have been pushed into the desert areas surrounding the town, though they occasionally come back to town and "takes the odd shot at us."
Mills is in charge of Regional Command Southwest, the NATO command responsible for providing security in Helmand Province, an area that has long been a Taliban stronghold.
Located in the heart of the opium growing areas of southern Afghanistan, Marjah had long been under Taliban rule and was a key component in the Taliban's control of the opium trade to fund its operations.
The fight for Marjah was portrayed by NATO officials as the first example of their new strategy to restore security to key population centers and build confidence in the Afghan government's ability to provide public services.
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