Afghanistan The Afghan government laid symbolic claim to the former Taliban stronghold of Marjah on Thursday with a flag-raising ceremony and the formal installation of a new civilian administration.
Both Afghan and Western military officials, though, said the campaign to secure the southern Afghanistan town would go on for weeks longer.
As the flag-raising was taking place, scattered clashes between U.S. Marines and insurgents continued, and coalition forces continued the painstaking work of finding and destroying the huge numbers of buried bombs planted by insurgents.
U.S. Marines, British and Afghan troops launched their assault on the town two weeks ago, on Feb. 13. With 15,000 troops taking part in combat and support operations spread over a wide area, it has been the largest single Western offensive since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001 that toppled the Taliban.
At Thursday’s ceremony, hundreds of local residents looked on as their red and green national flag was raised.