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MARJAH, Afghanistan – The Afghan government took official control of the southern Taliban stronghold of Marjah on Thursday, installing an administrator and raising the national flag while U.S.-led troops worked to root out final pockets of militants.
The ceremony was held in a central market as U.S. Marines and Afghan troops slogged through bomb-laden fields in the north of the town. The Marines and their Afghan partners are trying to secure a 28-square mile (45-square kilometer) area believed to be the last significant pocket of Taliban insurgents in Marjah.
Militants and allied troops are still getting caught up in gunfights in some areas, NATO said.
"Today's event was the civilian Afghan government re-establishing itself officially in front of the local residents," Hardinger said. The Afghanarmy had previously raised the country's green-and-red flag nearby, but that was only a claim of military control over that neighborhood, he said.