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Operation Snipe Ends, Efforts in Afghanistan Continue

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 13, 2002 – The British-led Operation Snipe is over, but not operations designed to root out al Qaeda and Taliban forces in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said May 13.

"Operation Snipe was one additional sweep that took place. There are others that are going on and will be going on," he said. "It was helpful, and we appreciate the work the coalition did."

The sweep through portions of eastern Afghanistan uncovered caches of weapons. Coalition troops also captured a number of al Qaeda and Taliban members May 12. Rumsfeld said the sweeps must continue "if we're to be successful."

Defense spokesman Marine Lt. Col. Dave Lapan said Operation Mountain Lion, of which Operation Snipe was a part, continues. U.S. and coalition forces are searching areas in eastern Afghanistan for al Qaeda and Taliban fighters.

Rumsfeld addressed news reports that the Pakistani government is not going after al Qaeda and Taliban pockets along the country's border with Afghanistan. "We have been very pleased with the cooperation (Pakistani) President (Pervez) Musharraf has provided the United States with respect to the war on terrorism," Rumsfeld said.

He said the area in question is tribal lands. Historically, the federal government has respected tribal law in this area. "(The Pakistanis) are currently working out ways that they can deal with the tribal organizations so that, in fact, pockets of al Qaeda or Taliban can be routed out," Rumsfeld said. He said the United States is in constant communication with Pakistan, "and it has been constructive and helpful."

Rumsfeld said he "didn't doubt for a minute" that there are pockets of Taliban and al Qaeda across all borders from Afghanistan.

There are approximately 14,000 coalition troops in Afghanistan. This includes personnel assigned to the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul and approximately 7,000 Americans.

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