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Posted: 3/2/2002 3:51:32 PM EDT
U.S., Afghan Soldiers Killed in Al Qaeda Fighting Sat Mar 2, 5:41 PM ET By Charles Aldinger WASHINGTON (Reuters) - At least one U.S. soldier and two Afghan troops were killed and others wounded on Saturday as Western coalition forces and their Afghan allies launched their biggest joint ground offensive of the Afghan war against regrouping al Qaeda and Taliban forces, defense officials said. The defense officials told Reuters that Afghan forces led the attack south of Gardez in eastern Afghanistan (news - web sites)'s Paktia Province, but that more American and coalition ground troops were involved than in any operation of the five-month-old war. The casualties occurred as hundreds of Afghan troops backed by U.S. and other coalition ground forces and American bombing -- including two new "thermobaric" cave bombs -- moved against up to 5,000 die-hard al Qaeda guerrillas of fugitive Osama bin Laden (news - web sites) and Taliban fighters. Reports from the battlefield indicated that Afghan troops were initially beaten back in fierce fighting which began on Friday night Afghan time and continued into darkness on Saturday. "It's a major operation, the biggest involving coalition troops of the war," said the official, who asked not to be identified and declined to provide numbers. Other U.S. defense officials said American warplanes dropped two new 2,000-pound "thermobaric" bombs into mountain caves where al Qaeda and Taliban were believed hiding. The recently developed American bombs are filled with a special explosive mixture that creates a high-pressure blast, driving all of the air out of a cave and potentially suffocating those inside. CENTRAL COMMAND ANNOUNCES CASUALTIES The U.S. Central Command based in Tampa, Florida, said in a statement, "U.S., coalition and Afghan forces have sustained casualties." "Initial reports are that one U.S. service member and two Afghan forces have been killed. an unspecified number of U.S. and Afghan forces have been injured," said the command, which is responsible for the American war in Afghanistan sparked by the Sept. 11 attacks on America. There were no further details on the casualties, but a number of other countries including Britain, France, Australia and Canada also have coalition forces involved in fighting the al Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan. In the provincial capital of Gardez, troops back from the fighting said the outnumbered Afghan forces had been beaten back in an attack on several thousand al Qaeda and Taliban. Saturday's American fatality was only the second U.S. service member to be killed by enemy fire in the Afghan war. While many civilians, Afghan troops and Taliban and al Qaeda fighters have died in the war, U.S. casualties have been relatively few. President Bush (news - web sites), who is spending the weekend at Camp David, was notified of the U.S. casualty on Saturday morning by his national security adviser Condoleezza Rice (news - web sites).
Link Posted: 3/2/2002 3:53:11 PM EDT
White House spokeswoman Anne Womack said Bush was monitoring the situation in eastern Afghanistan from the presidential retreat in Maryland's Catoctin Mountains, a 30-minute helicopter ride from Washington. The fierce fighting was shaping up as one of the biggest battles between the two sides since Taliban and al Qaeda forces were routed by U.S.-led attacks in December. The Central Command release said Afghan and coalition forces began fighting al Qaeda guerrillas and Taliban forces south of Gardez at about 9 p.m. EST Friday, which was early Saturday in Afghanistan. AFGHAN TROOPS LEAD ATTACK "This mission involved Afghan and coalition service members, but the main effort is the Afghan forces led by General Zia, General Kamal Khan Zadran and General Zakim Khan," the Central Command said. Senior Pentagon (news - web sites) officials told Reuters in Washington on Friday that the United States had been collecting intelligence on regrouping al Qaeda and Taliban in the area for some time, but that it would be up to Army Gen. Tommy Franks, head of the Central Command, to order any attack. Near Gardez, Afghan soldiers said they feared some of their units might have been cut off or surrounded in the battle about 20 miles east of Gardez near the Pakistan border. "Some people think there are 3,000 fighters against us. Some think 5,000," one soldier said. Bombing continued at nightfall on Saturday and a Reuters television cameraman saw flashes and loud explosions from B-52 bombing strikes. At least two big U.S. Chinook military helicopters headed out of the battle area in the mountain village of Shahi Ko in Arma district. In early January, a U.S. Army special forces soldier, Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Ross Chapman, was killed in a firefight near Gardez. A CIA (news - web sites) operative in Afghanistan, Johnny "Mike" Spann, was the first confirmed U.S. combat death. A former Marine artillery officer, Spann was killed during a prisoner uprising at a fortress near Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan in late November. The Pentagon has confirmed more than a dozen U.S. military deaths in the campaign in Afghanistan and the surrounding region in support of the war on terror. These include seven Marines killed when a refueling plane crashed in Pakistan on Jan. 9, three special forces killed in a U.S. B-52 strike near Kandahar on Dec. 5, two killed in a helicopter crash in Pakistan on Oct. 19, a sailor who went overboard, another sailor who fell and died of a head injury, a service member who died in a fork-lift accident and another who died of a gunshot wound in Uzbekistan.
Link Posted: 3/2/2002 4:00:08 PM EDT
I say find the Taliban concentrations and TACNUKE em, let it send a message that we ain't Effin' around.
Link Posted: 3/2/2002 4:14:17 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/2/2002 4:34:48 PM EDT by ArmdLbrl]
More links: [url]http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=578&u=/nm/20020302/ts_nm/attack_afghan_bombing_dc_10[/url] [url]http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=514&u=/ap/20020302/ap_on_re_as/afghan_fighting_14[/url] [url]http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/south_asia/newsid_1850000/1850219.stm[/url]
Link Posted: 3/2/2002 4:17:27 PM EDT
Originally Posted By RRotz: I say find the Taliban concentrations and TACNUKE em, let it send a message that we ain't Effin' around.
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We didnt go that far, but we did use the "thermobaric" devices today on two caves. Aparently they are a delayed action FAE, that penetrates first THEN releases its aresol explosive- and then after a delay for spread goes off and the fireball consumes all the air in the cave.
Link Posted: 3/2/2002 4:22:00 PM EDT
Seems to me the most effective option would be to release a flock of HIV-infected sheep in front of the caves. [rolleyes]
Link Posted: 3/2/2002 6:30:18 PM EDT
My prayers go out to all of the men fighting for freedom over there, and all over the world. Godspeed, God bless, and come home safe. SPC Badger, A Co "Jaguars" 5/87INF
Link Posted: 3/3/2002 12:29:13 PM EDT
U.S. Bombs Resistant Taliban in East Afghanistan Sun Mar 3,10:08 AM ET By Mohammad Bashir and Taras Protsiuk GARDEZ, Afghanistan (Reuters) - U.S. planes rained bombs on unexpectedly strong Taliban and al Qaeda resistance in east Afghanistan (news - web sites) Sunday, while posters supporting the deposed hard-line rulers appeared in three towns in the country's south. The biggest U.S.-led ground offensive of the five-month Afghan war was repulsed Saturday, prompting government troops and U.S. advisers to withdraw to the nearby town of Gardez, about 95 miles south of Kabul, while B-52 planes bombed up to 5,000 Taliban and al Qaeda troops in their mountain bunkers. The sound of air raids was heard in Gardez, 20 miles from the fighting, and smoke hung over the high altitude battlefield as the Afghan troops prepared for a new attack. "It's a major operation, the biggest involving coalition troops of the war," said a U.S. defense official in Washington, who asked not to be identified and declined to provide numbers. At least three Afghan soldiers and one U.S. serviceman have died in two days of fighting so far. The American death near Gardez -- the second U.S. serviceman killed by enemy fire in the war -- came as the al Qaeda-Taliban troops, many of them Arabs and other foreigners, fired rockets, mortars and artillery to beat back outnumbered Afghan troops. The whereabouts of the war's main targets, al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (news - web sites) and Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, remain a mystery but the governor of Paktia Province told Reuters they were not believed to be in the area of the offensive. Afghan soldiers said they launched their attack early on Saturday morning with a force of about 1,000 and reinforcements from nearby provinces were being rushed to the area Sunday. TALIBAN SUPPORT DISPLAYED There was a public display of support for the Taliban, deposed in December in a U.S.-led campaign, when pictures of bin Laden and Mullah Omar appeared in three southern towns overnight. "American agents should wait for a while," said one slogan written beside bin Laden's picture in the local Pashto language, warning the pro-American forces about the future. "Mullah Omar and Osama are the pride of all Muslims," said another slogan on the posters. In October, President Bush (news - web sites) launched a campaign to destroy al Qaeda in Afghanistan and oust their Taliban protectors in retaliation for the September 11 air attacks on America, blamed on bin Laden and his al Qaeda network. Al Qaeda and Taliban forces were routed in December after sweeping victories by U.S.-backed Afghan forces and this year there have been few major clashes and little U.S. bombing until fighting erupted near Gardez Saturday. But in Gardez, Afghan soldiers said they ran into 3,000 to 5,000 Taliban, sheltering in bunkers built in the 1980s by Afghan mujahideen fighting occupying forces from the former Soviet Union.
Link Posted: 3/3/2002 12:30:08 PM EDT
HELICOPTER RESCUE Afghan soldiers said some U.S. advisers, believed to number about 60 in all, were forced to abandon two four-wheel drive vehicles Saturday and flee for their lives. Afghan soldiers said U.S. advisers were rescued from the mountain fighting at heights of at least 8,250 feet by U.S. helicopters that braved intense fire. "Firefights have been intense at times in heavy combat actions. The exact size of the enemy forces occupying a series of cave complexes is not known," the U.S. Central Command in Tampa Florida, which is in charge of the Afghan war, said in a statement. "The weather has been cold and terrain is snow-covered and mountainous, ranging from 2,500 meters high at the valley floors to 3,500 meters at the mountain peaks." U.S. warplanes dropped two new "thermobaric" 2,000-pound bombs, which create a high-pressure blast that drives air out of a cave to suffocate those inside. Several days before the action started, U.S. intelligence officials estimated there were only 500 to 600 foe but the fierce resistance prompted speculation this forecast was too low. Afghan soldiers said for weeks the Taliban, who had family with them, had gone to local markets and bought up to 1,000 sacks of food supplies a week indicating the size of the contingent. Neighboring Pakistan shut its border in the area to stop fighters escaping the offensive. Afghan military officers and U.S. advisers warned foreign journalists arriving in Gardez to cover what may be the last major battle of the war to stay away from the front line. "It is too dangerous," one U.S. adviser said. Other coalition countries, including Britain, France, Australia and Canada have forces involved in fighting the al Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan but it was not known if they were involved in the Gardez action.
Link Posted: 3/3/2002 12:55:45 PM EDT
All I have to say is God Bless the soldier that died and thank you for protecting are country, You are now in a better place one that all of us will go to one day. We may not call it the same thing but we all know you will be held up high for what you have done for God and country
Link Posted: 3/3/2002 1:04:14 PM EDT
What I want to know is, how involved is the 101st. Are they just providing airlift or do they have a battalion on the ground? For once I wish the newsies could get there, but they are too afraid to go.
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