NATO says three U.S. service members have been killed in southern Afghanistan, but the international coalition says they did not die in connection with a major offensive under way in the Taliban stronghold of Marjah in Helmand province.
NATO said the Americans died following a bombing, but it provided no other details.
Afghan National Army Maj. Abdul Rahman says international troops were killed when suicide bomber on a motorbike targeted a joint foot patrol of Afghan and U.S. soldiers in Kandahar province , which lies next to Helmand. NATO would not confirm if it was the same incident, The Associated Press reports.
According to Telegraph, five Taliban fighters were killed during fighting in the last major Taliban stronghold in Helmand province on Saturday, after thousands of British and American troops attacked in the early hours.
The operation, in a district which has become a hub of insurgent fighters, bomb-makers and opium-growers, has been described as the biggest of the war in Afghanistan.
In a Saturday news conference, British Major-General Nick Carter said coalition forces had a successful "insertion" into Marjah on Friday with no casualties. The head of the coalition forces' southern command says 60 helicopters were used in the mission.
Carter also said Afghan President Hamid Karzai personally endorsed the mission in advance after he was briefed by Afghan security officials.
About 15,000 U.S. Marines, NATO troops and Afghan soldiers are taking part in the mission, called Operation Moshtarak ("together").
Officials estimate NATO forces could face anywhere from a few hundred to up to 1,000 Taliban fighters, Voice of America reports.
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