The top United States military commander in Afghanistan says a big operation to neutralise the Taliban in its heartland of Kandahar will take longer than first thought.
US forces had hoped to largely complete the Kandahar operation by August, before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
General Stanley McChrystal said at a NATO meeting in Brussels that recent events in Helmand have shown the task of turning the population away from the Taliban will be difficult.
NATO has said that taking control of Kandahar will be the key to reversing the momentum of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The BBC reports that tribesmen in Kandahar in April told General McChrystal and President Hamid Karzai that they were not ready for any major military operation.