Troops ready to hit Taliban stronghold |

Troops ready to hit Taliban stronghold

NEAR MARJAH, Afghanistan (AP) – U.S. and Afghan forces ringed the Taliban stronghold of Marjah on Thursday, sealing off escape routes and setting the stage for what is being described as the biggest offensive of the nine-year war.

Taliban defenders repeatedly fired rockets and mortars at units poised in foxholes along the edge of the town, apparently trying to lure NATO forces into skirmishes before the big attack.

Up to 1,000 militants are believed holed up in Marjah. But the biggest threats are likely to be the land mines and bombs hidden in the roads and fields.