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Red Cross to Visit Gitmo; U.S. and Afghan Forces Cooperate

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17, 2002 – A five-member delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross will visit the detainee holding facility today at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

There are 80 Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees at the facility, dubbed Camp X-ray, Pentagon spokeswoman Torie Clarke said in a morning press briefing today.

"(The detainees) are being given good, appropriate food three times a day, they are being given medical treatment, they are being given exercise and showers, they are being given the opportunity to pray, if they want to. They are being given very, very humane treatment, and I am confident that's what the ICRC will find," she said. The delegation includes medical personnel and linguists. The group will assess the living conditions of the detainees.

Reports from the camp indicate the detainees continue to threaten Americans. "There have been some (detainees) who, even now that they are in Guantanamo, have made it very clear what their intent is: If they had the freedom to do so, they would want to hurt and kill Americans," Clarke said. "Again, this underscores how dangerous these people are and why every security precaution has to be taken."

She said DoD has made no decision on the status of the detainees.

Clarke also discounted news reports that some tribes in eastern Afghanistan have balked at helping U.S. forces. She said U.S. forces in Afghanistan have worked with a large number of anti-Taliban forces, and that the Afghans have worked well with U.S. troops.

She said U.S. forces have cooperated with the Northern Alliance, Pashtun tribes in the south of the country and the so-called Eastern Alliance in Khost and Paktia provinces.

"They have been a very, very important and leading part of the efforts to dismantle and disable the Taliban regime, and to debilitate the Al Qaeda," she said. "They have been in caves, they have been in fights, they have been an important part of this.

"Can you say absolutely every single person over there has done exactly what we want at every single minute? No, but the support and participation has been very good overall."

U.S. aircraft flew 140 sorties over Afghanistan but dropped no ordnance. There are 343 detainees in Afghanistan under U.S. control. The remains of the seventh Marine killed Jan. 9 in the crash of a KC-130 return to the United States today.

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