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Afghan Ops Continue; Rocket Attacks on U.S. Forces Rise

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 21, 2003 – Operation Valiant Strike continues in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan, Combined Joint Task Force-180 officials said today.

Officials in Afghanistan said there was a spike in missile attacks directed against U.S. outposts overnight. "It had been settling down," said Army Capt. Alayne Cramer, a spokeswoman for CJTF-180 in Bagram. "We have a report that 22 rockets were fired at bases. They didn't hit anything, and there were no casualties. But they tried."

Cramer said the surge in attacks might be tied to the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Operation Valiant Strike is in full swing about 130 kilometers east of Kandahar in the Sami Ghar Mountains. About 600 coalition special operations forces and conventional forces are involved in the operation. Most of the U.S. troops involved come from the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division.

Officials would not give many details of the ongoing operation, except to say there were no U.S. casualties.

The rocket attacks on coalition posts were at Orgun-e and Deh Rawood. At Khowst, an Afghan border post received small arms fire. U.S. forces responded with mortars and small- arms fire, and Air Force A-10s fired rockets, dropped bombs and fired 30 mm rounds at the target area.

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