U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters that "hundreds" of insurgents have been killed in Al-Fallujah.
Rumsfeld, speaking to reporters as he opened a trip to Latin America, declined to say how much longer the offensive might last. But he predicted Al-Fallujah will no longer be a safe haven for what he called "terrorists and extremists."
"I have no need to ever predict how long things will take. They'll take as long as they take. And it [the offensive] will end, and it will end successfully and it [Al-Fallujah] will no longer be a safe haven for terrorists or extremists," Rumsfeld said.
Officials said 18 U.S. soldiers and five Iraqi soldiers have been killed since the offensive was launched on 8 November. Casualties among civilians in Al-Fallujah are not clear.
[For the latest news on Iraq, see RFE/RL's webpage on "The New Iraq".]