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US Warplanes Continue Attacks on Afghan Taleban - 2001-11-02


U-S warplanes continue attacks against Taleban position in Afghanistan, as the Pentagon assesses progress in the U-S -led war.

A Defense Department spokesman told reporters that air raids on the front lines north of (the capital) Kabul are making it extremely difficult for the Taleban to send reinforcements and supplies to Mazar-e-Sharif and other strategic areas.

Rear Admiral John Stufflebeem also said bad weather is slowing efforts to send more U-S Special Forces troops into the area. He also said the Pentagon supports President Bush's statement that the "noose is tightening" around Osama bin Laden. The admiral said the suspected terrorist leader is elusive, but that defense officials are confident American troops have the will and ability to catch or kill him.

Admiral Stufflebeem again stressed the Bush administration's efforts to avoid the deaths of innocent civilians in Afghanistan. He said U-S warplanes are not targeting caves where civilians may be taking shelter from bombing raids. The admiral said caves are being targeted only when there is hard evidence indicating the area is or has been used by the Taleban or Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network.

The Pentagon spokesman said American planes dropped 34-thousand more food packets over Afghanistan overnight (Thursday to Friday). He said U-S military forces also are looking forward to getting involved in building shelters and delivering supplies to the Afghan people as soon as possible.

Admiral Stufflebeem made no mention of Taleban claims of 70 to 100 American military casualties from fighting in Afghanistan. But earlier today White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the Taleban was -- in his words -- "just lying" about U-S troops killed in combat.

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