London: US General David Petraeus said on Monday that the international troops he commands in Afghanistan have turned the tide on the Taliban`s "momentum" there, although he warned tough battles still lay ahead.
In an interview with the BBC, he also played down the prospect of a rapid withdrawal of US troops next year, repeating his insistence that a target of July 2011 was only a "date when a process begins".
As the death toll of US troops in Afghanistan rose again with the death of four soldiers on Sunday, Petraeus said the road ahead could be bloody but insisted foreign forces were making progress.
"The momentum that the Taliban have established over the course of recent years has been reversed in many areas and will be reversed in the other areas as well. This will entail tough fighting," he told BBC.
According to extracts of the interview, the general also repeated his view that the US administration`s date of July 2011 to start withdrawing US troops would not herald a swift exit from the country.
"July 2011... is the date when a process begins. It is not the date when the US forces begin an exodus and look for the exit and a light to turn out," he said.