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Marines Helicoptered into Marja, Afghanistan

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Fighting has once again intensified in the U.S.-led assault on Marjah in southern Afghanistan.  

Six NATO troops were killed today, as they ran into fortified Taliban positions and sniper fire. 12 NATO forces have now been killed in the seven-day-long operation.

Early in the day, about two dozen Marines were helicoptered into Marja, Afghanistan and dropped into an area where Taliban marksmen are operating.

The Associated Press reports that Marines and Afghans came under heavy sniper fire and rocket attacks at midday today, local time.

"We had a few companies engaged in firefights that lasted a few hours," Marine spokesman lieutenant Josh Diddams told The AP. Lieutenant Diddams said that resistance from insurgents appeared lighter today, compared to earlier this week.

NATO says that Thursday was the deadliest day for NATO and Afghan troops since the offensive began on Saturday. Six coalition troops died. Eleven NATO troops and one Afghan soldier have died since the offensive began.