Dramatic photos show a Marine's narrow escape from death Sunday while facing insurgent gunfire in Afghanistan.
The Marine, part of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), was exchanging gunfire with Taliban fighters near Garmser in Afghanistan's Helmand Province when a Reuters photographer captured the soldier's very close call.
A series of six photos show the Marine, wearing a T-shirt and fatigues but no combat helmet, ducking as insurgent gunfire tears through the top of a mud wall he's using for cover. Remarkably, the Marine escaped the gunfight without injury.
“The insurgents are finding that every time they engage with the Marines, they lose,” Col. Peter Petronzio, commander of the 24th MEU, said in a statement issued May 10. “The Marines are gaining ground every day and securing more of the routes through the district. The support we have received from our allied partners has contributed to our many successes thus far.”
The Garmser district has been the center of a joint operation of U.S. and British troops designed to put pressure on Taliban insurgents, Agence France-Presse reports.
Troops have targeted this region on the Pakistan border that has served as a route for supplies and reinforcements for insurgents since April 28.
"Definitely they are putting resistance in the area because Garmser is very important for them," Gen. Carlos Branco, a spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force, told the AFP.
"Garmser is a planning, staging and logistics hub. Once lost it will mean a severe defeat for them," he told the agency. "That is why they are reinforcing with insurgents coming from other places, both north and south."
Branco told the AFP that the insurgents had suffered "heavy" losses.