Three years after the NATO-led coalition ended its combat operations in Helmand, US Marines are now back to Afghanistan’s turbulent province. Why have they returned?
The deployment of some 300 Marines to the poppy-growing southern province came one day after the Taliban announced the launch of their “spring offensive”, according to AFP. The Marines will train, assist and advise the Afghan cops in the area. The Taliban effectively control or contest 10 of Helmand’s 14 districts, blighted by a huge opium harvest that helps fund the insurgency, AFP added. The US military wants to combat the drug trade
The situation in Helmand is now worse than when the US Marines left, according to Guardian journalist Sune Engel Rasmussen reporting from America’s Camp Shorab in Helmand. Even Afghan forces cannot access the areas where the US military had outposts
The Taliban are stronger in Helmand than anywhere else. About 350 US Marines have been killed in the province, Rasmussen writes. At one point, the province was so saturated with Marines, that some called it “Marinistan”