U.S. offensive driving Taliban out of Marja

At a news conference held by senior Afghan officials and Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the United States commander in Afghanistan, the officials said some Taliban fighters remained in Marja, largely in the southern part of the city.

“We are not facing any threat now except in South Marja, where there is a slight resistance, not enough to be an obstacle to our forces, “ Gen. Sher Mohammed Zazai, the Afghan National Army commander in Helmand, said in the televised press conference.

A bazaar in the south of Marja had previously been a stronghold of the Taliban within the city. The city of 80,000 people is the last large population center held by the Taliban in Helmand, but officials at the press conference said there were still three more districts in the province under Taliban control outside the scope of the current offensive…

[An Afghan official] also said authorities were investigating reports that Taliban from Marja had fled across the frontier, presumably to Pakistan, which borders Helmand Province. The nearest large Pakistani city, Quetta, is believed to serve as a sanctuary for senior Taliban leaders from Afghanistan.