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US General: Pleased with Military Campaign Progress

The U.S. general in charge of the American military campaign in Afghanistan says he is pleased with the progress of the operation. Still, he a great deal of work is left to be done.

General Franks says he cannot predict how long it will take for the besieged northern Afghan city, Kunduz, to fall. But he says the American-led coalition eventually will prevail.

The general says the coalition needs to complete its work in Kanadahar, the southern Afghan city, where Taleban forces are still holding out. General Franks says the most-important goal for the international coalition is to complete the destruction of al-Qaida terrorist network.

The general says all forms of military power will be used to punish the Taleban and to find Osama bin Laden. He does not rule out putting additional ground troops into Afghanistan as part of the campaign. In his words, "We obviously have not taken that off the table."

General Franks visited Bagram air base, north of Kabul, Tuesday, for talks with the leaders of the Northern Alliance. It was the first visit to Afghanistan by a U.S. Army general since the military operation began, October 7.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press news agency reports U.S. warplanes are continuing to bomb targets in and around Kandahar and Kunduz.

Opposition forces are keeping Taleban fighters in both cities under siege. The Northern Alliance says several thousand foreign fighters, mainly Chechens, Pakistanis and Arabs, are fighting alongside the Taleban in Kunduz.

In Washington, U.S. defense officials say as many as 1,500 Marines will likely be sent into Afghanistan to join the hunt for Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders. The United States has offered a $25 million reward for information leading to the capture of Osama bin Laden.