GREAT LAKES, Ill. (AP) -- U.S. special forces have been involved in ground combat in Afghanistan, killing Taliban and al-Qaida fighters, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Friday. No Americans have died in the operations, he said.
"They are armed and they're participating," the Pentagon chief said, describing the ongoing battle to erase the al-Qaida terrorist network and the Taliban militia that supports them.
"They have gone into places and met resistance and dealt with it," Rumsfeld said. He declined to say specifically how many forces are there. "We have hundreds."
Troops from U.S.-allied countries also are on the ground, Rumsfeld said, but he would not identify those countries.
As a result of ground action in the south of Afghanistan, he said, "It is becoming less and less hospitable for al-Qaida to be around."
He spoke to reporters while flying here to address the graduating class at the Naval Training Center.
Rumsfeld said high-level Taliban leaders have been captured by opposition Afghan forces and American officials are planning to interrogate them.
Rumsfeld's comments came after U.S. officials declared they were "tightening the noose" around Osama bin Laden's terrorist network with selective air attacks and clandestine direct action on the ground.
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