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Largest Afghan campaign since Anaconda ends

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posted on Aug, 26 2002 @ 10:49 AM
Largest Afghan campaign since Anaconda ends
Troops find caches of weapons, Taliban documents
August 26, 2002 Posted: 4:28 AM EDT (0828 GMT)



BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Operation Mountain Sweep -- a weeklong mission in southeastern Afghanistan, including air assaults and 2,000 coalition forces -- has ended with the discovery of five weapons caches and two caches of Taliban documents, a military spokesman said Monday.

But at least one of the mission's primary targets -- a suspected al Qaeda financier -- was still at large, U.S. army sources said. The status of the other target, a Taliban intelligence officer in the Khowst region, was unclear.

"The objective of Mountain Sweep to find and destroy remaining al Qaeda elections in the area, search for weapons and usable intelligence data and project combat power into the area to deny the enemy sanctuary there," said Col. Roger King.

The military said it was the largest operation in Afghanistan since Operation Anaconda in March and included:

Five combat air assault missions and three major convoy road marches.

Over 2,000 coalition forces, including seven companies of Airborne and Ranger Infantry.

Combat engineers.

Elements of three aviation battalions and civil affairs officials.

Several coalition special operations units with Afghan militia.

A raid last Monday targeted the suspected al Qaeda financier, but before troops were able to reach his suspected location, they intercepted radio transmissions that he had fled to Pakistan.

"I have no doubt that they had advance warning that we were coming," said Col. James Huggins. "We have to share information with the country we're in. I have no idea what they do with that information."

Troops did capture at least 10 suspected Taliban and al Qaeda members. The suspects are being held as "people under control" -- or PUCs in military parlance -- by U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

At least two of the suspects may hold Western passports, sources said. One of the suspects was described as a white, English-speaking male.

According to King, the weapons caches included an antiaircraft artillery gun, mortars, a case of mortar rounds, rocket-propelled grenades (RPG), 100 rockets, machine-gun ammunition, small arms and ammunition.

"Some of the unique aspects of these caches were that seven women in the village of Narizah were found to be carrying nine RPG rounds under their burkhas," said King.

On Sunday, troops found a pickup truck hidden underneath a pile of hay. Inside the vehicle, troops found Taliban documents, computer manuals and small-arms weapons.

Twice during the operations, U.S. forces came under fire, but there were no casualties.

-- CNN producers Bill

[Edited on 01-08-2002 by nyeff]


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