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Reports Out of Afghanistan 'Encouraging,' Official Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13, 2001 – DoD officials said reports out of Afghanistan Nov. 12 "are encouraging," but they will wait to see that the gains are held before making more assessments.

News reports indicate the Taliban and their Al Qaeda allies are fleeing Kabul and that Northern Alliance groups are occupying the Afghan capital. U.S. officials were not ready to confirm the reports.

"I am not going to use the words 'taken' or 'fallen,'" said Pentagon spokeswoman Torie Clarke. "That's a pretty hard and fast characterization." She said the United States knows there is activity in many places in Afghanistan, including Kabul and the western city of Herat.

"We know that as these pressure points are applied, things are happening to make life more difficult for Al Qaeda and the Taliban," she said. "But it does take some time to get a better sense of what is really going to hold, what is really going to stick."

She said the situation in the country is still fluid and that there are different pockets of resistance and activity in different areas. She said she just doesn't have enough details to characterize the situation.

She said U.S. officials are pleased that in areas where the Taliban and Al Qaeda have left, "in most places, the Northern Alliance -- the opposition groups -- are being welcomed. From what we've seen thus far, reports are good."

About 80 percent of the air attacks on Nov. 12 were to support opposition groups. Navy and Air Force planes continued to attack Taliban and Al Qaeda command and control areas. "Targets included armor, vehicles, troops, air defense artillery, activity around Kabul and Kandahar," Clarke said. U.S. transports dropped some 34,000 Humanitarian Daily Ration packs and Commando Solo II missions broadcast to the Afghans.

Clarke announced that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld will visit the site of the World Trade Center Nov. 14. He will meet with Mayor Rudy Guiliani.

"He is going to New York to remind people what this is all about," Clarke said. "Two months have gone by since Sept. 11. He wants to remind people of the thousands of people who died, and there were thousands who died -- they were slaughtered. Men, women, children, people of many, many different countries and many, many different faiths.

"And we want to remind people what this is about. It's about self-defense and preventing things like that from happening again and the only way to do that is to go after the terrorists, root them out where they are and go after those who harbor and foster and encourage them."

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