America's top military officer says U-S-led alliance forces are making modest gains in Afghanistan in their hunt for Osama bin Laden and leaders of his terrorist al-Qaida network.
But speaking today (Sunday) on Fox network television, Air Force General Richard Myers said alliance troops are encountering fierce resistance from al-Qaida terrorists fighting for their lives at a suspected hideout near the eastern town of Tora Bora.
General Myers, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the fight to capture or kill Osama bin Laden may take a long time.
The general also said U-S Marine efforts to block Taleban and al-Qaida leaders from fleeing southern Afghanistan into neighboring Pakistan were running smoothly. But he cautioned it would be nearly impossible to completely seal the mountainous border separating the two countries.
Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, a United Nations' advance team has arrived in Kabul to lay the groundwork for the deployment of a multi-national security force to maintain peace in the war-torn country. The Northern Alliance and three other Afghan factions agreed to the security force in talks last week on the formation of an interim post-Taleban government.
In related developments, a group of former Taleban officials said they are leaving the movement to revive an Afghan political party formed in the 1960's to combat Western influence in their homeland. The officials, who have been living in Pakistan, have declared their support for the U-N-sponsored peace process.
It remains unclear whether Afghanistan's new interim government will recognize their party, once known as the Association of the Servants of Koran (Khudamul Furqan Jamiat).