The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan says he believes the U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan is turning the tide against the Taliban.
In an interview aired Monday on ABC television, Gen. Stanley McChrystal said he believes the troop surge has "changed the way we operate in Afghanistan" and is blunting the Taliban's momentum. But McChrystal added: "It's not a completed mission yet."
He cited as evidence of progress a meeting he recently held in a river valley in Helmand province, an area where the Taliban has been strong and one of the first targets of the surge.
"When I sit in an area that the Taliban controlled only seven months ago and now you meet with a shura" - a traditional meeting - "of elders and they describe with considerable optimism the future, you sense the tide is turning," he said.
According to a recent poll of 1,534 Afghan adults conducted by ABC News, the BBC and ARD German TV,in their country; nationwide, 10 percent of Afghans support the Taliban.
President Barack Obama is sending an additional 30,000 U.S. soldiers to Afghanistan, which will bring the number of U.S. troops close to 98,000.
The poll found 61 percent in favor the military buildup of 37,000 U.S. and NATO reinforcements now deploying.
Despite McChrystal's assessment, six NATO service members,, were killed Monday in Afghanistan, making it the deadliest day for the international force in more than two months. The violence underscored warnings that casualties will increase as more foreign troops stream into the country and step up the fighting against the Taliban.
The Americans died in a firefight with militants during an "operational patrol" in southern Afghanistan, U.S. military spokesman Col. Wayne Shanks said. He declined to provide on the exact location of the clash or their branch of service pending notification of family members.
The deaths raised to at least 10 the number of U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan so far this year, according to an Associated Press tally.