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Coalition Forces Launch Operation in Afghanistan

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2003 – Coalition forces in Afghanistan launched another offensive in the global war on terror, DoD officials said today.

Operation Valiant Strike is aimed at villages and cave complexes east of Kandahar in the Sami Ghar Mountains, officials said. The operation began with an air assault at dawn today.

Special Forces and 82nd Airborne Division soldiers are participating in the operation. A Combined Joint Task Force 180 spokesman said about a battalion's worth of soldiers is involved. Coalition soldiers are also participating, and strike aircraft are standing by to support the operation, he said.

Officials said Valiant Strike is a direct result of intelligence gleaned over the past few weeks, including interrogations of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, a top al Qaeda lieutenant captured in Pakistan March 1, they said.

U.S. Central Command officials said there is no connection between the actions in Iraq and the new operation except that both are part of the global war on terrorism. The operation is another in a series of offensives that included operations Mountain Lion, Mountain Sweep, Champion Strike, Mongoose, Viper and Alamo Sweep.

The operation will continue until the mission is completed, officials said.

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