Gates: Taliban ‘no longer occupy’ territory in Afghanistan.

In a congressional hearing today, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates implied that the U.S. military had routed the Taliban from Afghanistan. Echoing his recent assessment that the Taliban has “lost” in Afghanistan, Gates said the Taliban has been “thrown out”:

The Taliban no longer occupy any territory in Afghanistan. They were thrown out of Musa Qala a few weeks ago before over Christmas. And the Taliban have had some real setbacks. Probably 50 of their leaders have been killed or captured over the past year, and we know that that’s had an impact on their capability and also on their morale.

Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2008/02/gates332.320.240.flv]

As late as November, a report said the Taliban controlled over half of Afghanistan. Today, the U.K. and U.S. “issued a renewed appeal to Nato allies in Afghanistan to take on a greater share of the fighting against the Taliban.”