Air attacks resume in Afghanistan
Tuesday October 9, 5:49 AM
WASHINGTON, October 8 (AFP) - US warplanes and sea-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles struck targets in Afghanistan Monday on the second consecutive night of a US military campaign to weaken the country's Taliban rulers and uproot terrorist networks.
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld emphasized, however, that air strikes alone probably would not bring down Afghanistan's ruling militia.
"I think it's unlikely that the airstrikes will rock the Taliban back on their heels," he told reporters. "They have very few targets that are of high value that are manageable from the air."
The latest attacks appeared to be smaller in scope than those of the previous day. They involved five land-based B-1 and B-2 bombers and an equal number of tactical aircraft from US aircraft carriers in the region, a Pentagon official said.
Two US warships and a submarine fired 15 Tomahawk cruise missiles at communications targets inside the country, said the official said, speaking on condition anonymity.
The latest attacks followed a full night of raids Sunday that hit troop concentrations, airfields, early warning radars, surface-to-air missile sites, terrorist training camps and command and control facilities.
Rumsfeld reported progress toward eliminating Taliban air defense sites in those raids, but said it was too soon to say that US and British forces had full control of the air.
"We cannot yet state with certainty that we destroyed the dozens of military command and control and leadership targets we selected," he added at a Pentagon news conference with Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
US and British forces launched the attacks as part of a broad-gauged effort to topple the Taliban and destroy al-Qaeda, the terrorist network that allegedly carried out the September 11 suicide attacks on New York and Washington.
"The cruise missiles and bombers are not going to solve this problem," Rumsfeld said.
"What they can do is to contribute by adding pressure, making life more difficult, raising the cost for the terrorists and those that are supporting the terrorists, draining their finances and creating an environment that is inhospitable to the people that are threatening the world."
Air Force General Myers said 31 targets were attacked between noon and midnight Sunday. All aircraft returned safely to their bases, officials said.
The Taliban's fleet of ageing Soviet-made MiG-21 fighters never got off the ground, according to Rumsfeld.
"Strikes are continuing as we speak," Myers said. "We are hitting targets that are similar to those we did yesterday."
Air drops of food and medicine also were continuing with US Air Force C-17s scheduled to drop another 57,000 high protein food rations to refugees inside Afghanistan, the officials said.
Rumsfeld was vague about how they have gone about targeting al-Qaeda and the Taliban, but indicated that they were on the lookout for vehicles that serve as mobile command and control centers.
He also noted that there were al-Qaeda dominated troops in northern Afghanistan.
A Pentagon official said a concentration of troops and tanks in northern Afghanistan was attacked Sunday by US B-52 bombers using conventional bombs. Al-Qaeda fighters were among them, he said.
Airfields and radars at Kabul, Kandahar, Jalalabad, Herat and Shinbad were reported to have been targeted.
US aircraft came under fire Sunday from anti-aircraft guns and surface-to-air missiles, according to Myers, who said they were presumed to include "Stinger" missiles.
The shoulder-fired missiles were supplied by the CIA to Afghans fighting the Soviet occupation in 1980s.
Rumsfeld said all the targets were clearly military in nature, most were in remote areas and had been selected to avoid civilian casualties, adding that any one around the targets were members of al-Qaeda or Taliban forces.
Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden appeared not to have been singled out for attack.
In an interview with ABC television, Rumsfeld said "it would be a mistake to personalize this into a single individual or a single name."
Past US efforts to use a military operation to hunt for an individual had unsatisfactory results.
US forces managed to capture Panamanian General Manuel Noriega after a long standoff following the invasion of Panama in 1989, but a manhunt for Somali warlord Mohammed Farah Aidid four years later turned into a debacle that left 18 US soldiers dead.
|Back to News Archirves of 2001|
Disclaimer: This news site is mostly a compilation of publicly accessible articles on the Web in the form of a link or saved news item. The news articles and commentaries/editorials are protected under international copyright laws. All credit goes to the original respective source(s).