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Pentagon: Tightening the Noose in Afghanistan - 2001-11-15


General Tommy Franks says U-S forces are tightening the noose in Afghanistan around Osama bin Laden's al Qaida terrorist network.

The general in charge of U-S military operation in Afghanistan told reporters at the Pentagon today (Thursday) that U-S special forces are blocking roads near the Taleban's southern stronghold of Kandahar, trying to trap al-Qaida and Taleban leaders. He said Special Forces are also on the ground in Kandahar serving as target spotters for U-S bombing runs -- which he said are becoming more precise.

The general noted that fighting between Taleban troops and Afghan opposition forces continues in Kandahar and the northern city of Kunduz, where hardcore Taleban supporters have regrouped.

Meanwhile, Pakistan says it is positioning tanks and soldiers along its lengthy border with Afghanistan to prevent Osama bin Laden or Taleban and al-Qaida fighters from retreating into Pakistan. A contingent of soldiers arrived today in the city of Chaman, located on the Afghan border.

In a separate development, Britain says about 100 British troops have arrived at Bagram air base north of Kabul. The troops will check out the base's facilities and pave the way for humanitarian operations.

Earlier, U-S warplanes destroyed a building in a Taleban-controlled area, killing a number of senior members of al-Qaida. The Pentagon says the air raid did not kill Osama bin Laden or Mullah Omar.

U-S Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says that finding the leaders of al-Qaida will not be easy. He said there are many places they can hide and he said they may even have access to a helicopter to flee without being detected.

Meanwhile, Britain, France, and Turkey have committed troops to a postwar peacekeeping force in Afghanistan, while Germany and Jordan are considering involvement.

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