1. Wide of B-52s leaving vapour trails in sky above Gardez
2. Wide shot of news conference
3. SOUNDBITE (Pashtu) Commander Muhammad Smailzazi, Commander in charge of Afghan fighters inside Gardez (who are fighting alongside U-S special forces) (translation below)
4. Cutaway journalist
5. SOUNDBITE: (English) Translator version of Smailzazi soundbite
"The Americans are not involved in the internal affairs of our country. They are promoting their policy of anti-Al Qaida. As you know, Americans have not occupied our land. They are not our bosses, but they are our supporters. They have a few special forces on the ground and are supporting us in restoring stability in the country. I stress, they are not our bosses. However, they accept our decent proposals and this is an issue decided by the government."
6. Cutaway commander
7. Various of commander with colleagues, lights cigarette
U-S jets prowled the skies over the Gardez battle area and detonations from heavy bombers could be heard south of Gardez on Sunday. But hundreds of jubilant U.S. soldiers wrapped up their battle returning to Bagram air base on Sunday. Wave after wave of CH-47 Chinook helicopters brought 400 troops back into Bagram base north of Kabul.
Coalition forces cautioned that Operation Anaconda, launched last week to crush al-Qaida and Taliban forces in the mountains of Paktia province, was not over.
U-S officials stressed that the operation would continue until the last of the enemy troops surrendered or were killed.
However, the intensity of ground fighting was winding down as remaining Al-Qaida and Taliban members withdraw to remote caves in the high mountains.
Backed by overwhelming air power, coalition forces killed at least 500 al-Qaida and Taliban fighters and secured large swathes of territory in the Shah-e-Kot mountain
range, U.S. forces said.
At least eight Americans and three Afghan fighters supporting the U.S.-led coalition died in the opening days of the offensive.
In a news conference held in Gardez on Sunday, local Afghan commander Muhammad Smailzazi stated that while U-S forces pose no threat to the region, the mainly ethnic Tajik reinforcements sent to the region by Hamid Karzai's interim government posed a threat to local rule.
He insisted that the issue of Paktia - the region whose capital is Gardez - should be left to the ethnic Pashtun people of Paktia.
There is a fear that disagreements between ethnic Tajiks and Pashtuns could be fanned by foreign influences. Neighbouring Pakistan was formerly the Pashtun-dominated Taliban's main backer.
Muhammad Smailzazi added that he could recruit thousands of additional forces from the local region and that Kabul-assigned forces were not required.