Nightly News   |  February 18, 2010

Taliban fighters ambush U.S. Marines in Marjah

U.S. forces sustained setbacks in the ongoing offensive in Afghanistan on Thursday as the Pentagon warned that the battle will not be a brief engagement. NBC's Tom Aspell reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> texas, today. pete, thanks.

>>> we turn overseas now, a day of fierce fighting in afghanistan up, where four americans died in that offensive in the taliban stronghold of marjah. an offensive that one commander said today could take another month on the ground. nbc's tom aspell with us from cab yul tonight. good evening.

>> reporter: day six of operation to drive the taliban out of southern afghanistan and some of the heaviest fighting of the war. taliban fighters ambushed u.s. marines in the center of imagea today. firing rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapons from two sides. the marines responded with everything they had.

>> we shot a couple of them. now see up here on this building here? tallest one over the fence? they are going to climb on top to shoot.

>> reporter: marines say they control all of marjah's roads and central market . but one cameraman says the taliban resistance is still strong.

>> this is one of the fiercest fire fights the marines have seen in marjah. the taliban not happy the marines have control of the center of town.

>> reporter: the marines called in attack helicopters to drive the taliban back.

>> they are getting ready to run the cobras in.

>> reporter: this is the town in the taliban heartland that has to be won with minimum civilian casualties . it is a slow, careful battle. this fire fight lasted 90 minutes before the taliban melted away. when the fighting ends, nato commanders say it could take many more months for the afghan government to build trust among marjah civilians.

>> our own tom aspell on the tough fight on the ground in afghanistan . tom, thanks.

>>> president obama today presided over