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Air Strikes Target Caves, Tunnels, Troops

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29, 2001 – DoD spokeswoman Victoria "Torie" Clarke held an impromptu Pentagon press briefing this morning to give reporters "the top line" of what happened in Afghanistan Sunday, what's being focused on today and to run down responses to rumors and speculations.

Noting that the United States continues to support the Northern Alliance and other opposition groups, Clarke said 79 air sorties flown in the areas of Mazar-e Sharif, Kabul, Jalalabad, Konduz and Bamian struck at targets including Al Qaeda and Taliban caves and the Taliban military.

Commando Solo radio broadcasts and leaflet and humanitarian ration drops continued around Mazar-e Sharif, Clarke said. Today's objectives include the continued hammering of emerging targets, the caves and tunnels, and Taliban armor and troop formations, she noted. Commando Solo, and leaflet and ration air drops are also continuing.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said in Oct. 28 television interviews that the United States is focused on the caves and that there are a lot of them. "'It's a complex system and we're trying to work through them systematically,'" Clarke quoted Rumsfeld as saying.

Clarke parried reporters' requests for specific details on Enduring Freedom operations. "We can tell you what we plan to do, give a general sense of how we plan to go about doing it, but I'll leave the adjectives up to others," she said of military operations. "We've been consistent about what our objectives are and pretty clear about what we've been doing lately, which is going after troop concentrations, command and control and emerging targets where we find them.

Asked about the second attack on Red Cross warehouses in Kabul over the weekend, Clarke said the strike was purely accidental -- a "different kind of mistake" from the first incident earlier this month. The military's information was incomplete -- attack planners knew the facilities were warehouses, but not that they belonged to the Red Cross.

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