The attack started on Saturday with waves of helicopters ferrying troops into Marja and nearby Nad Ali district. The British troops in Nad Ali had made far more progress than expected, according to the BBC which has a reporter embedded with them.
Afghan military officials gave a more optimistic view of the progress being made today, with Brig. Gen. Sher Mohammad Zazai saying Afghan and NATO forces have largely contained the insurgents and succeeded in gaining trust from residents, who have pointed out mine locations.
"Today there is no major movement of the enemy. South of Marja they are very weak. There has been low resistance. Soon we will have Marja cleared of enemies," Zazai said at a briefing in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital of Helmand province. He added that only three Afghan troops had been injured.
Dietz was also confident of the operation's success. "In the next several days we will achieve our objective and full control of the city," he said. But Dietz conceded that it may take several weeks to flush out the die-hard fighters gone to ground in Marja's surrounding countryside.
Miguel Marquez, Mike Gudgell, Fasal Rasheed, the Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.