Ahead of a major NATO offensive due to begin soon (some are guessing tomorrow), Taliban fighters in the town of Marjah are helping local families leave the area, even going as far as lending local farmers their vehicles for transport. “These are our people; they’re not the enemy and they shouldn’t get hurt,” said one fighter as he helped a small boy into a truck laden with the possessions of several fleeing families.
Oh, wait. Sorry, that’s precisely the opposite of what’s going on.
Villager Mohammad Hakim gambled that he could wait until the last minute because he was worried about abandoning his cotton fields.
He finally tried to move his wife, nine sons, four daughters and grandchildren out of Marjah earlier Tuesday but said militants told him to return home because they had mined the surrounding roads.
And here’s another example of respect for civilian lives and livelihoods.
With his two-year-old son clasped to his chest, Haji Mohammed Manan said he had walked eight hours through flooded opium fields with his wife and seven children to avoid the danger on the roads.
“During the day and during the night, the Taliban are laying landmines everywhere,” Manan said. “We had no choice. We had to walk through the water.”
This is going to be ugly.