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U.S., Italian Forces Launch Strike in Afghanistan

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 4, 2003 – U.S. and Italian forces launched an offensive June 2 against anti-coalition forces in the Shahi Kowt section of the Paktia province in Afghanistan, Combined Joint Task Force 180 officials said today.

A brigade-sized unit launched Operation Dragon Fury to prevent the re-emergence of terrorism, to deny sanctuary to terrorists and to protect nongovernmental organizations and coalition forces from enemy attack.

Army Col. Rod Davis, spokesman for the command, said the ground assault section set up blocking positions and air assault troops drove anti-coalition forces into the trap. A total of 21 men were taken under control by coalition forces.

The U.S. forces came out of Kandahar, the Italian forces from Khowst. Paktia province is located in eastern Afghanistan near the border with Pakistan. The province was the scene of tough fighting in 2001 and was raided again last year.

Roughly 20 helicopters launched the air assault. Close-air support was standing by in case the coalition troops needed the assistance, Davis said. He said the Italian forces searched more than 300 vehicles and inspected more than 800 people.

There were no coalition casualties.

American forces came from the 82nd Airborne units in the area. Special operations personnel also took part.

Operation Dragon Fury is continuing.

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