7. SOUNDBITE (English) Major General Frank L. Hagenbeck
"The battle continues, General Zia (Lodin, a local Afghan commander) and his forces are back in the fight, as are the other Afghan generals down south from here. I will tell you that in the last 24 hours, we have killed lots, lots of al-Qaida and Taliban. I won't give you precise numbers, but we've got confirmed kills in the hundreds as we speak. To include mortars, heavy weapons, cachets, we truly have the momentum at this point."
8. Helicopter on ground
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Major General Frank L. Hagenbeck
"..is that we have intelligence, both from a variety of sources to include those on the ground and some detainees that we've got, that the local fundamentalists had to call a jihad against the Americans and the coalition partners. And they have been funnelling, infiltrating fighters into this area. And our estimation is that in the last 24 to 48 hours, the number of enemy that we have fought over time is somewhere in the neighbourhood of 600 to 700 enemy. And conservatively speaking right now, I am convinced from the evidence that I have seen, that we have killed at least half of those enemy forces."
10. Major General Frank L. Hagenbeck with media
11. SOUNDBITE (English) Major General Frank L. Hagenbeck
"I will assure you that there is no question that he had been captured by the al-Qaida. We knew precisely where he was, we told the rescue team that was going in, they insisted on going in and I supported that effort. And they went in for the fight. We sent in reinforcements to them because at daylight more al-Qaida were coming in. We cut off the enemy with our air support shortly thereafter and had a fight that really lasted very intensely for the first three or four hours and it was sporadic throughout the day. That the conclusion, when we extracted all our forces, we bought home the body of that young sailor. And I will tell you that from all indications the al-Qaida executed him, probably before our forces got there, or immediately upon arrival"
US-led coalition troops have gained the upper hand after killing at least half the al-Qaida and Taliban forces holed up in the eastern mountains of Afghanistan in the biggest joint offensive in the war, the US commander has said.
Major General Frank L. Hagenbeck made the statement during a news conference at Bagram air base, north of the capital, Kabul.
Several hundred more American troops have been deployed in the rugged terrain of Paktia province - bringing their number to more than one thousand - as were fresh forces from their Afghan allies.
Working at altitudes sometimes about 10-thousand feet, they engaged in continuous firefights with al-Qaida fighters and cleared several enemy caves.
Still, US officials admitted resistance from the fighters holed up in the hills of the Shah-e-Kot mountain range was strong.
When the operation began Friday, 150 to 200 enemy fighters were believed to be hiding in the area, Hagenbeck said.
But by Wednesday, as many as 600 to 700 al-Qaida and some Taliban troops had filtered into the territory, he said.
But he added that he believed that at least half of them had been killed by American and coalition forces.
Eight American servicemen have been killed in the offensive - codenamed Operation Anaconda.
Seven deaths occurred on Monday during two operations involving MH-47 Chinook helicopters.
In the first, a helicopter inserting special forces was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, forcing it down.
As it tried to lift off, one American fell out.
Another helicopter retrieved the rest of the crew.
Hagenbeck said videotape from an unmanned reconnaissance plane showed the serviceman was captured by al-Qaida fighters and then killed.
He was not missed until a head count was taken after the chopper was airborne.