U.S. General David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, says the surge in the city of Marjah is just the start of a long campaign to defeat the Taliban.
"These types of efforts are hard, and they're hard all the time," Petraeus said on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday. "I don't use words like 'optimist' or 'pessimist,' I use realist. And the reality is that it's hard. But we're there for a very, very important reason, and we can't forget that. We're in Afghanistan to ensure that it cannot once again be a sanctuary for the kind of attacks that were carried out on 9/11."
U.S. and Afghan troops are targeting a nest of about 40 Taliban fighters in the western part of Marjah.
The enemy is dug in and reportedly using the town's civilian population for cover. They have also booby-trapped buildings with explosives and bombs.
One coalition soldier died in a roadside bomb attack this weekend, bringing the death toll to 13. The Marines said about 120 Taliban fighters have been killed.
Meanwhile, A NATO official said coalition forces could have swept through Marjah in a matter of days, but at the cost of more civilian lives.