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U-S Military: We Are Fighting Hardcore al-Qaida Fighters in Eastern Afghanistan - 2002-03-08


U-S military officials say the enemy forces they are fighting in the snowy peaks of eastern Afghanistan are not Afghans but mainly professional foreign troops and the type of killers who carried out the September 11th attacks on the United States.

The officials say the enemy forces are almost exclusively hardcore members of Osama bin Laden's al Qaida network. They say they fight from caves, are not prepared to give an inch, and are ready to die to the last man.

U.S. military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Joe Smith told a news conference at Bagram air base near Kabul that they have found the pocket of resistance they were looking for. He says they are highly trained, they are young and in excellent shape and they fight hard.

He said the recovered documents show that they are hardened al-Qaida fighters and not just peasants.

Afghan soldiers say there are Arabs, Chechens, Pakistanis, Kashmiri and maybe even disillusioned Muslims from the United States, Britain and other Western nations.

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