2. SOUNDBITE: (English) Major A.C. Roper, U.S. Army's 101st Airborne division spokesman:
"Operations continue south of Gardez in Afghanistan. Firefights have been intense, at times in heavy combat actions. The exact size of the enemy forces occupying a series of cave complexes is not known. To date more than 80 pieces of ordnance have been dropped from aircraft in support of Afghan, US and coalition forces. Afghan, US and coalition forces are involved in eliminating al-Qaida and non-Afghan Taliban forces in the area. There has been one US Service member killed and three Afghan forces members killed. An unspecified number of US and Afghan forces have been injured. The weather has been cold and the terrain is snow covered, mountainous and is ranging from two thousand-five hundred metres high, at the valley floor, to 35-hundred metres at the mountain peaks. Once the combat phase of the operation ends, coalition, civil and humanitarian affairs teams will continue to operate in the Paktian province."
Question: "Are the soldiers killed special forces?"
Answer: "I do not at this time have specific unit assignments for the injured soldiers, I'm sure that information will be forthcoming, but it's not available at this time."
Question: "Can you comment to what extent ground forces are involved?"
Answer: "This is an Afghan forces main effort. We are currently in a supporting role, but as I said this operation is ongoing and information is very fluid as it actually comes out of the actual combat site."
Gardez, March 2
3. Exterior of Gardez Civil Hospital
4. Hospital sign
5. Local militia outside with guns
6. Close up gun
7. Wounded government soldier in bed
8. SOUNDBITE: (Dari) Wounded Government Soldier
"The Americans have told us that they are going to bomb first and then start an attack."
9. Wounded government soldier in bed
10. SOUNDBITE: (Dari) Wounded Government Soldier
"The other side are using mortars and machine guns. One has been captured. We don't know who he is, he pretends to be mute."
In the biggest known U.S.-led ground operation of the war, U.S. and Afghan troops backed by U.S. jets have been attacking Taliban and al-Qaida forces regrouping in eastern Afghanistan.
Speaking at southern Afghanistan's American-held Kandahar airport, the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne division spokesman, Major A.C. Roper, called the operation south of Gardez "ongoing".
Major Roper said one US soldier has been killed, three Afghan government soldiers and an unknown number of US and Afghan government soldiers are injured.
He said "information is very fluid" and that more details would probably emerge later.
Afghan fighters interviewed in Gardez said the Americans told them there were about four thousand Al-Qaida and Taliban warriors holed up in the mountains.
Afghan fighters recovering at the hospital in Gardez described the operation as a two-pronged assault, with one group of Afghan troops and U.S. Special Forces launching a frontal attack and a second, traveling in rented pickup trucks, attempting to ambush from the rear.