WASHINGTON (AP) – As the biggest ground battle of the war in Afghanistan winds down, U.S. forces are sizing up smaller “pockets” of al-Qaida resistance elsewhere in the country.

Paul Wong
U.S. soldiers return to Bagram Air Base after battling Taliban and al-Qaida forces.

Officials said yesterday that even with victory in the Shah-e-Kot Valley against die-hard al-Qaida fighters, there almost certainly will be other bloody battles.

“The pockets are still out there,” beyond the battlefield south of Gardez near the Pakistan border, Air Force Brig. Gen. John Rosa told a Pentagon news conference. Rosa, deputy director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he could not predict how many al-Qaida remain on the loose.

“You have to go and treat each one of these pockets individually,” he said. “I mean, you can’t just say, ‘Well, there’s a pocket there, probably 300 or 400.’ You’ve got to do the intelligence assessment, use our all-source intelligence to determine what you think.”

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