ShareThis Page
News

Afghan campaign is 'all but won'

| Thursday, May 9, 2002

BAGRAM, Afghanistan — The war against al-Qaida and Taliban fighters inside Afghanistan is "all but won" and offensive operations by the U.S.-led coalition are grinding down as a result, the top British commander in the coalition said Wednesday.

"We believe we're on the right way, that the fight against (the al-Qaida and Taliban) in Afghanistan is all but won," Brig. Roger Lane said at Bagram air base, according to a pool report. "They're not showing a predisposition to reorganize and regroup to mount offensive operations against us."

A 1,000-man British-led force began sweeping on foot through southeastern Afghanistan last Friday to track down small groups of al-Qaida or Taliban fighters and search caves and bunkers they may have once used. The mission, dubbed Operation Snipe, is taking place in an undisclosed area that military officials say has never been searched by coalition troops.

"Because as yet we have not come into contact with the enemy per se, I expect over the next few days that offensive operations akin to Operation Snipe will start coming to an end," Lane said.

The last major battles against al-Qaida and Taliban holdouts took place in March during Operation Anaconda in eastern Afghanistan's Shah-e-Kot mountains. The 12-day assault marked the largest U.S. ground operation of the war. Since then, U.S. officials say enemy fighters have dispersed into small groups.

"I think the general assessment is that in substantial parts of the country the need for offensive operations is beginning to dwindle and that they will be completed in a matter of weeks rather than months," Lane said.

When asked about Lane's comments, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said coalition forces had several jobs to complete, including helping to strengthen the government of Interim Prime Minister Hamid Karzai and tighten the country's borders.

"There are still Al Qaeda and Taliban in the country and in neighboring countries. They still intend to do what they can to destabilize the Karzai interim authority. We intend to see that doesn't happen," he told reporters in Washignton. "And we have no intention of announcing an end date or anything of that type."

Ensuring stability in Afghanistan in the long-term would be the responsibility of an Afghan national army, not the thousands of foreign soldiers currently deployed in the country, he added.

"We're not going to be able to find and destroy every last bunker and terrorist," Lane said. "But we can get to a point where … initially the local Afghan militia forces can take control and then in time, as the development of the Afghan national army takes some form, that they will … then become responsible for their territorial sovereignty and security."

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me