KABUL -- Afghan authorities say special precautions are being taken to prevent civilian casualties in Helmand Province as U.S. and Afghan forces battle insurgents in the southern region, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan reports.
The Afghan government is under severe public pressure to reduce the number of civilian casualties that have occurred in U.S.-led NATO strikes against Islamic militants in Afghanistan in recent months.
Helmand Province Governor Gulab Mangal told Radio Free Afghanistan that public announcements have been made on radio stations and other media outlets in order to raise the level of awareness among locals about the operations.
He said Afghan authorities tried "to make it clear to the residents not to let militants use their homes as defense shields so that they will remain safe."
Mangal said important development projects are coming to the region once security is improved and reconstruction will begin as soon as the military operations end.
Some 4,500 U.S. Marines are taking part in Operation Khanjar, a series of major military offensives supported by about 650 Afghan security forces -- national army and police -- in Helmand, which is largely controlled by the Taliban and other insurgent groups.