Civilian Deaths Mounting in Marjah Offensive

 NATO forces said Tuesday that three more civilians had been killed in separate incidents, bringing the total number of Afghan civilians killed since the coalition assault on Marjah began four days ago to at least 15.

 
Excerpted from an article by Kristen Chick in the Christian Science Monitor
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.
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 that19 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.
 
The Marjah offensive is the first test of the new NATO strategy outlined by Gen. Stanley McChrystal that focuses on “protecting civilians”.